It is closely related to its North American counterpart, the Wandering Tattler (T. incana) and is difficult to distinguish from that species. Both tattlers are unique among the species of Tringa for having unpatterned, greyish wings and back, and a scaly breast pattern extending more or less onto the belly in breeding plumage, in which both also have a rather prominent supercilium (line above eye).
These birds resemble Common Redshanks in shape and size. The upper parts, underwings, face and neck are grey, and the belly is white. They have short yellowish legs and a bill with a pale base and dark tip. There is a weak supercilium (line above eye).
They are very similar to their American counterpart, and differentiation depends on details like the length of the nasal groove and scaling on the tarsus.
The best distinction is the call; Gray-tailed has a disyllabic whistle, and Wandering a rippling trill.
Breeding / Nesting
Its breeding habitat is stony riverbeds in northeast Siberia. It nests on the ground, but these birds will perch in trees. They also sometimes use old nests of other birds.
Grey-tailed Tattlers are strongly migratory and winter on muddy and sandy coasts from southeast Asia to Australia. They are very rare vagrants to western North America and western Europe. These are not particularly gregarious birds and are seldom seen in large flocks except at roosts.
Diet / Feeding
These birds forage on the ground or water, picking up food by sight. They eat insects, crustaceans and other invertebrates.
Grey-tailed Tattlers are not listed as threatened on the Australian Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
State of Victoria, Australia
- The Grey-tailed Tattler is listed as threatened on the Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act (1988). Under this Act, an Action Statement for the recovery and future management of this species has not been prepared.
- On the 2007 advisory list of threatened vertebrate fauna in Victoria, the Grey-tailed Tattler is listed as critically endangered.
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