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Red Knot

Red Knot

Threatened and Endangered Species North Dakota Species of Conservation Priority III

Fact Sheet
Scientific Name Calidris canutus rufa
General Description L 10.5”, WS 23”, 4.7 oz. Red or dull gray belly, olive-yellow legs.
Status Migrates through North Dakota in mid-May and mid-September to October.
Abundance Rare.
Primary Habitat Sandy or gravelly beaches and sandbars or alkaline wetlands.
Federal Status Migratory Bird, Endangered Species.
Reason for Designation Listed as federally threatened in December 2014. The species may occur annually in the state although in extremely low numbers. It is included on the National USFWS Birds of Conservation Concern list. Endangered Species Act Listed in Shorebirds of Conservation Concern 2015.

Locations and Conditions of Key Habitat

Preferred Habitat

Although Red Knots use primarily marine habitats on their breeding and wintering grounds, both alkaline and freshwater lakes have been used in North Dakota during migration. Red Knots have been observed in the Missouri River system as well as sewage lagoons and large permanent freshwater wetlands.

Key Areas and Conditions for Red Knot in North Dakota

The observations of Red Knots in North Dakota are scattered throughout the state. There are no stopover sites consistently used by Red Knots.

Problems Which May Affect this Species


Degradation of large wetlands.

Other Natural or Manmade Factors

Expanding oil and gas development in North Dakota overlaps with migration range and there is increasing risk of oilfield contamination to alkali lakes and the Missouri River system.

Research and Survey Efforts

Current Research or Surveys

  • Nothing specific to the species in North Dakota.
  • Geolocator results indicate use of the central flyway for birds wintering in Texas, but also some switching between the central and Atlantic flyway.

Previous Research or Surveys

  • Shorebird migration survey and observation data (1999).
  • Numerous published reports and gray literature for the species in the Atlantic Coast range.

Additional Research or Surveys Needed

Determine the extent of Red Knot migration stopover use in North Dakota.

Population and Trend Estimates

  • North American Population Estimate 2012: 42,000
  • North Dakota Migration Estimate: less than 100

Management Recommendations

  • Mimic natural flows on the Missouri River to create sandbar habitat.

Monitoring Plans

A monitoring plan specific to Red Knots is unlikely, however, implementation of an all shorebird monitoring program could be considered. A shorebird monitoring plan should follow The International Shorebird Survey (ISS) Program for Regional and International Shorebird Monitoring (PRISM) and “Guidance for Developing and Implementing Effective Shorebird Surveys.”

2005-2015 Progress

The Red Knot has been added as a Level III Species of Conservation Priority.

Range Map

For more information about the red knot see the USFWS website.

Note: A listing of works consulted when compiling the information on this page may be found in the 2015 State Wildlife Action Plan.