Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern
The Little Stint is a small wader bird. It is a long distance migratory bird. It is small in size, has a dark bill and dark legs which helps it to move quickly. It is distinguished from other dark legged stints by its plumage, fine bill tip, unwebbed toes and long primary projection. Breeding adults can be easily noticeable as they have an orange wash on the breast, a white throat and a prominent white V on the back. Juveniles have pale crown stripes and have a pinkish colored breast.
It is known to migrate overland on a broad front (del Hoyo et al. 1996) or by using a number of routes, (Snow and Perrins 1998) across the Western Palearctic (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998). The little stint is nomadic especially during winters as many of the habitats it uses floods or becomes overgrown (Hockey et al. 2005). Migration during winter occurs between July and November and the migration back occurs between mid-May to early June (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Breeding occurs during late June and early July (del Hoyo et al. 1996). This bird is sociable even outside of its breeding season (Snow and Perrins 1998). It is seen in small groups during winter season (Urban et al. 1986) and forms larger flock groups to roost (Hockey et al. 2005). A migratory flock in general, consists of 20-30 individuals (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Breeding pairs nest as close as 5 pairs/ha, however on most occasions they are spread out (10 pairs/km²) (del Hoyo et al. 1996).
Breeding: The little stint inhabits low altitude tundra in the high Arctic (del Hoyo et al. 1996). It prefers dry ground with dwarf willows close to swamp areas or salt marshes (del Hoyo et al. 1996), or even laces where moss and sedge are interspersed with hummocks (Johnsgard 1981). Areas that receive an annual rainfall of above 250mm are avoided (del Hoyo et al. 1996).
During non-breeding season the little stint can be found on the muddy edges of small inland lakes and reservoirs (Johnsgard 1981), riverbanks (del Hoyo et al. 1996), seasonal pools (Snow and Perrins 1998), as well as on coastal mudflats and seashores (Johnsgard 1981, del Hoyo et al. 1996). During its winter range it is found in habitats of coastal areas, enclosed lagoons, (del Hoyo et al. 1996), saltpans (Urban et al. 1986) and in some areas it occurs in inland freshwater wetlands such as marshes, paddy fields, jheels, etc.
The little stint builds its nest that resembles a shallow cup on the open ground (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998), which is sometimes covered with vegetation (del Hoyo et al. 1996).
Diet: The little stint predominantly has a diet that consists of invertebrates (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998). During the breeding season, it prefers to eat larva, adult Diptera and small beetles (del Hoyo et al. 1996), it is particularly fond of the larvae of mosquitoes and crane flies (Johnsgard 1981). During non-breeding seasons it prefers a mixed diet of ants, Hymenoptera, water bugs, crustaceans, plant material, Diptera and beetles (del Hoyo et al. 1996).
Threats: The activities that threaten the little stint differ across the world. In Point Calimere (India), three activities pose a danger to this species; illegal hunting (bird trapping) habitat alterations by salt industries on reservoir and marshlands and degradation of habitats due to scanty rainfall patterns (Balachandran 2006). In the Walvis Bay (Namibia), habitat degradation (due to change in flood regime and wetland reclamation) and disturbance from tourism (Wearne and Underhill 2007) are two prominent threats. The little stint is highly susceptible to avian malaria (Mendes et al. 2005) and avian botulism (Blaker 1967, van Heerden 1974), and maybe gravely threatened in the future in case of outbreaks.
Compiled by our former Junior Research Fellow Ms.Tamanna Kalam
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- 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2012.1). Available at: http://www.iucnredlist.org. (Accessed: 19 June 2012).
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- Mendes, L.; Piersma, T.; Lecoq, M.; Spaans, B.; Ricklefs, E. 2005. Disease-limited distributions? Contrasts in the prevalence of avian malaria in shorebird species using marine and freshwater habitats. Oikos 109: 396-404.
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- van Heerden, J. 1974. Botulism in the Orange Free State goldfields. Ostrich 45(3): 182-184.
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- BirdLife International 2012. Calidris minuta. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.1. <www.iucnredlist.org>.