Plasticity in choice of nesting habitat and nest location of Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus – a review of published materials and new data from western Siberia


89 – 96

1 August 12

Włodzimierz Meissner, Mikhail Golovatin, Sergey Paskhalny

Włodzimierz Meissner
Avian Ecophysiology Unit, Department of Vertebrate Ecology and Zoology, University of Gdańsk, ul. Wita Stwosza 59, 80-308 Gdańsk, Poland.


Public Files

Although Terek Sandpipers Xenus cinereus breed across a vast area of northern Eurasia, information on their breeding biology is very limited. Here we summarise data on the characteristics of their nest sites and the variability of their nest locations over their breeding range, based on our own data and descriptions of nests published in Russian literature. Altogether we assess data for 106 nests from 53 breeding areas in different parts of Russia and Ukraine. These data show that Terek Sandpipers have great ecological plasticity in adapting to different environmental conditions including urban areas. Their nests were usually found in wet scrub and open canopy broadleaf taiga forest, on meadows and grazed floodplain pastures with sparse vegetation, in arable fields and also on the dry bottom of fish ponds or on bare ground at sites with no vegetation. Other recorded nests include one built on a base floating on water and on a tree trunk. In the eastern part of the breeding range, most nests were in broadleaf taiga forest and were located on the ground among scattered vegetation. However, in the western part of the range there was no clear preference for a particular habitat. Nests were most often on the ground with no or only sparse vegetation. This difference can probably be attributed to differences in the availability of habitats between the two regions; the east is largely overgrown by continuous taiga forest whereas in the west there is a greater variety of potential habitat. Typical of Terek Sandpiper nests on the Siberian floodplains is that they were usually built on the ground on a layer of sticks or twigs; such location allows for early nesting before declining water levels expose the  ground. Another feature of Terek Sandpiper nests is that they were often built close to the colonies of other bird species; 65% were found in such locations.