AppearanceCommon greenshanks are brown in breeding plumage, and grey-brown in winter. When in water, they can appear very similar to marsh sandpipers but are distinguished by the shape of the lower bill which gives it an upturned appearance to the bill. They have long greenish legs and a long bill with a grey base. They show a white wedge on the back in flight. They are somewhat larger than the related common redshank. The usual call is a rapid series of three short fluty notes syllabilized as "teu-teu-teu".
Like most waders, they feed on small invertebrates, but will also take small fish and amphibians.
The common greenshank is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds applies.
NamingThe genus name "Tringa" is the New Latin name given to the green sandpiper by Aldrovandus in 1599 based on Ancient Greek "trungas", a thrush-sized, white-rumped, tail-bobbing wading bird mentioned by Aristotle. The specific "nebularia" is from Latin "nebula" "mist". Like the Norwegian "Skoddefoll", this refers to the greenshank's damp marshy habitat.
DistributionThis is a subarctic bird, breeding from northern Scotland eastwards across northern Europe and east across the Palearctic. It is a migratory species, wintering in Africa, the Indian subcontinent, and Australasia, usually on fresh water. It breeds on dry ground near marshy areas, laying about four eggs in a ground scrape.
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