What are the shorebirds?

Calling Ruddy Turnstone in the Arctic Norway. © Attila Seprényi

Calling Ruddy Turnstone in the Arctic Norway. © Attila Seprényi

Let’s make it clear: not only those birds are shorebirds, which occur on the shores of our seas and oceans! They literally occur everywhere. They can be found from the high Andes and the Himalayas to the remote islands of Oceania and from the Arctic to the Antarctic and in between. It’s hard to call a Peruvian Thick-knee a shorebird, since it lives in semi-deserts in South America. Similarly, the Ibisbill is a shorebird of the Himalayan rivers and never goes down to the shores. There is a confusion in the naming, we know.

The term, ‘shorebird‘ or ‘wader‘ always related to the some part of the subfamily of Charadriiformes. In the Americas, herons, spoonbills and flamingos are often called ‘shorebirds‘ as well. The ‘wader‘ term is more like British/European and sometimes gulls and terns are included in the group.

It is just a matter of taste how we call lapwings, plovers, sandpipers and related birds as a group, but it seems that we cannot find a perfect common name to be used everywhere in the world. There have been and will always be arguments on this ‘issue’ among birdwatchers.

Like many previous authors, we use the term ‘shorebirds‘ for the bird families listed bellow:

Pluvianellidae: Magellanic Plover
Chionidae: Sheathbills
Burhinidae: Thick-knees
Pluvianidae: Egyptian Plover
Pluvialidae: Golden-Plovers
Recurvirostridae: Stilts, Avocets
Ibidorhynchidae: Ibisbill
Haematopodidae: Oystercatchers
Charadriidae: Plovers, Dotterels

Charadriinae: Plovers
Vanellinae: Lapwings
Anarhynchinae: Dotterels

Pedionomidae: Plains-wanderer
Thinocoridae: Seedsnipes
Rostratulidae: Painted-snipes
Jacanidae: Jacanas
Scolopacidae: Sandpipers, Snipes

Numeniinae: Curlews
Limosinae: Godwits
Arenariinae: Turnstone and Stints
Tringinae: Phalaropes and Shanks
Scolopacinae: Dowitchers, Snipe, and Woodcock

Dromadidae: Crab Plover
Glareolidae: Coursers, Pratincoles

Source: John H. Boyd: Aves — A Taxonomy in Flux, TiF Checklist, Shorebirds: Charadriiformes, Downloaded on 22 February 2014.


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