Last updated on 1-Nov 2017
The Great Knot migrates between Australia and Siberia, stopping over along the way on the coastal mudflats of the Yellow Sea (though some of the main stop-over sites have now been destroyed by development). The availability of food (shellfish) found in these tidal flats is critical to their survival, rest, and migratory patterns. The Great Knot is now classified as Critically Endangered. Great Knots do not breed in Australia. Instead, they nest in Siberia during the northern summer. Only the males accompany the broods of the young.
The Great Knot is a medium-sized shorebird with a straight, slender bill and a heavily streaked head and neck. In Australia, they are usually seen in non-breeding plumage: grey upperparts with pale scalloping and a white rump, and white underparts with heavy streaking on the neck, grading to spots on the breast. In breeding plumage, Great Knots have a black band across the chest and black, white and reddish speckles on the upperparts.
Great Knots occur around coastal areas in many parts of Australia during the southern summer. They breed in eastern Siberia, and when on migration they occur throughout coastal regions of eastern and South East Asia.
In Australia, Great Knots inhabit intertidal mudflats and sandflats in sheltered coasts, including bays, harbours and estuaries. They forage on the moist mud, and they often roost on beaches or in nearby low vegetation, such as mangroves or dune vegetation.
Great Knots are migratory birds that spend from December to May in Australia and then return to Siberia to breed. A few may overwinter especially in northern Australia. They feed by rapidly jabbing their bill into the soft mud of intertidal mudflats, especially along the water’s edge, taking prey from the surface of the mud or just below it.
Great Knots mostly eat bivalve molluscs, as well as other invertebrates, such as snails, worms and crustaceans.
Great Knots breed in Siberia during the northern summer, laying up to four eggs. Both sexes incubate the eggs, but only the male accompanies the broods of young.