Long-term trends in abundance, phenology, and morphometrics of Little Stint Calidris minuta during autumn migration in southern Sweden, 1946–2020


  • Jonas Waldenström Center for Ecology and Evolution in Microbial Model Systems (EEMiS), Linnaeus University, 391 82 Kalmar, Sweden https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1152-4235
  • Mariëlle van Toor Center for Ecology and Evolution in Microbial Model Systems (EEMiS), Linnaeus University, 391 82 Kalmar, Sweden https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2254-5779
  • Åke Lindström Department of Biology, Lund University, Ecology Building, 223 62 Lund, Sweden https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5597-6209




population decline, climate change, stopover ecology, fat deposition, Arctic shorebirds, Charadriiformes


The Little Stint Calidris minuta is an Arctic wader species that migrates through the Baltic Sea region towards wintering areas in North and West Africa and the Mediterranean region. We use a 75-year trapping series, comprising 4,791 Little Stints on autumn migration, from Ottenby Bird Observatory in Sweden to illustrate long-term trends in abundance, phenology, and morphometrics. Numbers of trapped juveniles dropped from median 31 (mean 74) in 1946–1999 to median 1.5 (mean 3.5) birds in 2000–2020, while the number of adults was generally low and without trends. Rolling window analyses showed that the drop in juveniles started around 1984, and from 1993 onward the median never exceeded seven juveniles/year (25 %-quantile: 0–1; 75 %-quantile: 4–55). Moreover, adult birds advanced their passage on average 0.48 days per year, passing 26 days earlier in 2020 than in 1946. Earlier migration of adults and decreased numbers of juveniles suggest low reproductive output in recent decades. Morphometric data of recaptured birds show that Little Stints on stopover at Ottenby gain fuel at a speed close to the theoretical maximum, strongly indicating that the conditions at the trapping site remain favourable for foraging waders.


Download data is not yet available.


Bakken V, Runde O & Tjorve E. 2003. Norsk ringmerkningsatlas. Vol 1. Stavanger Museum, Stavanger, Norway.

Barlein F, Dierschke J, Dierschke V, Salewski V, Geiter O, Hüppop K, Köppen U & Fiedler W. 2014. Atlas de Vogelzug. Ringfunde deutscher Brut- und Gastvögel. AULA-verlag, Wibelsheim, Germany.

Barshep Y, Hedenström A & Underhill LG. 2011. Impact of climate and predation on autumn migration of the Curlew Sandpiper. Waterbirds 34: 1–9. https://doi.org/10.1675/063.034.0101 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1675/063.034.0101

Bates D, Mächler M, Bolker B & Walker S. 2015. Fitting Linear Mixed-Effects Models Using lme4. Journal of Statistical Software 67: 1–48. https://doi.org/10.18637/jss.v067.i01 DOI: https://doi.org/10.18637/jss.v067.i01

Blomqvist S, Holmgren N, Åkesson S, Hedenström A & Pettersson J. 2002. Indirect effects of lemming cycles on sandpiper dynamics: 50 years of counts from southern Sweden. Oecologia 133: 146–158. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00442-002-1017-2 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00442-002-1017-2

Blomqvist S & Lindström Å. 1995. The spring migration of sanderling Calidris alba, little stint C. minuta and curlew sandpiper C. ferruginea in Sweden. Ornis Svecica 5: 55–67. https://doi.org/10.34080/os.v5.23005 DOI: https://doi.org/10.34080/os.v5.23005

Högström S. 1980. Tio års vinterräkningar av sjöfågel på Gotland 1969–1978. Bläcku 6: 61–90.

Bub H. 1991. Bird trapping and bird banding: a handbook for trapping methods all over the world. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York.

Cramp S & Simmons KEL. 1983. The Birds of the Western Palearctic. Vol III. Waders to Gulls. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.

Danielsson G, Edelstam C & Svärdson G. 1947. Ottenby fågelstation, dess tillkomst och verksamhet år 1946. Vår Fågelvärld 6: 38–51.

Delany S, Scott D, Dodman T & Stroud D (eds). 2009. An atlas of Wader Populations in Africa and Western Eurasia. Wetlands International, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Edelstam C. 1972. The visible migration of birds at Ottenby, Sweden. Vår Fågelvärld, suppl. 7. 360 pp.

Fransson T, Österblom H & Hall-Karlsson S. 2008. Svensk ring­märknings­­atlas. Vol. 2. Naturhistoriska riksmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden.

Green G.H. 1980. Total head length. Wader Study Group Bulletin 29: 18.

Hedenström A. 2004. Migration and morphometrics of Temminck’s Stint Calidris temminckii at Ottenby, southern Sweden. Ringing & Migration 22: 51–58. https://doi.org/10.1080/03078698.2004.9674310 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/03078698.2004.9674310

Hedenström A, Klaassen RHG & Åkesson S. 2013. Migration of the Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius breeding in South Sweden tracked by geolocators. Bird Study 60: 466–474. https://doi.org/10.1080/00063657.2013.843635 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/00063657.2013.843635

Hedh L & Hedenström A. 2016. Autumn migration strategies and trapping numbers in the Common Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula in southern Sweden. Ardea 104: 227–237. https://doi.org/10.5253/arde.v104i3.a3 DOI: https://doi.org/10.5253/arde.v104i3.a3

Helseth A, Lindström Å & Stervander M. 2005a. Southward migration and fuel deposition of Red Knots. Ardea 93: 213–224.

Helseth A, Stervander M, Waldenström J. 2005b. Migration patterns, population trends and morphometrics of the Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres passing Ottenby in south-eastern Sweden. Ornis Svecica. 15: 63–72. https://doi.org/10.34080/os.v15.22411 DOI: https://doi.org/10.34080/os.v15.22411

Hildén O. 1983. Mating system and breeding biology of Little Stint Calidris minuta. Wader Study Group Bulletin 39: 47. https://sora.unm.edu/sites/default/files/journals/iwsgb/n039/p00041-p00051.pdf

Holmgren N, Ellegren H & Pettersson J. 1993. Stopover length, body mass and fuel deposition rate in autumn migrating adult Dunlins Calidris alpina: evaluating the effects of moulting status and age. Ardea 81: 9–20.

Iwajomo SB, Stervander M, Helseth A & Ottosson U. 2013. Population trends and migration strategy of the Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola at Ottenby, SE Sweden. Ringing & Migration 28: 6–15. https://doi.org/10.1080/03078698.2013.811157 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/03078698.2013.811157

Kania W & Chylarecki P. 1992. Polygamy and polyandry in the mating system of Little Stint Calidris minuta. Wader Study Group Bulletin 64: 11–12. https://sora.unm.edu/sites/default/files/journals/iwsgb/n064/p00009-p00018.pdf

Keller V, Herrando S., Voříšek P, Franch M, Kipson M, Milanelsi P, Martí D, Anton M, Klvaňová A, Kalyakin MV, Bauer H-G & Foppen RPB (eds). 2020. European Breeding Bird Atlas 2: Distribution, Abundance and Change. European Bird Census Council & Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Kubelka V, Šálek M, Tomkovich P, Végvári Z, Freckleton RP & Székely T. 2018. Global pattern of nest predation is disrupted by climate change in shorebirds. Science 362: 680–683. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aat8695 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aat8695

Lappo EG, Tomkovich PS & Syroechkovskiy EE. 2012. Atlas of breeding waders in the Russian Arctic. Institute of Geology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia.

Lessells K & Leslie R. 1977. Alternative wader catching. Wader Study Group Bulletin 20: 17–21. https://sora.unm.edu/sites/default/files/journals/iwsgb/n020/p00017-p00021.pdf

Lindström Å. 1998. Mass and morphometrics of Little Stints Calidris minuta on autumn migration along the Arctic coast of Eurasia. Ibis 140: 171–174 https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1474-919X.1998.tb04556.x DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1474-919X.1998.tb04556.x

Lindström Å. 2003. Fuel deposition rates in migrating birds: causes, constraints and consequences. Pp 307–320 in Avian Migration (Berthold P, Gwinner E & Sonnenschein E, eds). Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Germany. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-662-05957-9_21

Lindström Å, Green M, Husby M, Kålås JA, Lehikoinen A & Stjernman M. 2019. Population trends of waders on their boreal and arctic breeding grounds in northern Europe. Wader Study 126: 200–216. https://doi.org/10.18194/ws.00167 DOI: https://doi.org/10.18194/ws.00167

Lindström Å, Klaassen M & Lanctot R. 2005. The foldable “Ottenby” walk-in trap: a handy and efficient wader trap for expedition conditions. Wader Study Group Bulletin 107: 50–53. Available at http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30035115

Lindström Å & Piersma T. 1993. Mass changes in migrating birds: the evidence for fat and protein storage re-examined. Ibis 135: 70–78. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1474-919X.1993.tb02811.x DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1474-919X.1993.tb02811.x

Mascher JW & Marcström V. 1976. Measures, weights, and lipid levels in migrating Dunlins Calidris a. alpina L. at the Ottenby Bird Observatory, South Sweden. Ornis Scandinavica 7: 49–59. https://doi.org/10.2307/3676174 DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/3676174

Mazur AE, Remisiewicz M, & Underhill LG. 2021. Sex-specific patterns of fuelling and pre-breeding body moult of Little Stints Calidris minuta in South Africa. Ibis 163: 99–112. https://doi.org/10.1111/ibi.12840 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/ibi.12840

Meltofte H & Clausen P. 2016. Trends in staging waders on the Tipperne Reserve, western Denmark, 1929–2014 with a critical review of trends in flyway populations. Dansk Ornitologisk Forenings Tidsskrift 110: 1–72.

Meltofte H, Durinck J, Jakobsen B, Nordstrøm C & Rigèt FF. 2006. Trends in wader populations in the East Atlantic flyway as shown by numbers of autumn migrants in W Denmark, 1964–2003. Wader Study Group Bulletin 109: 111–119.

Middlemiss E. 1961. Biological aspects of Calidris minuta while wintering in south-west Cape. The Ostrich 32: 107–121. https://doi.org/10.1080/00306525.1961.9633084 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/00306525.1961.9633084

Nakagawa S, Johnson PCD & Schielzeth H. 2017. The coefficient of determination R² and intra-class correlation coefficient from generalized linear mixed-effects models revisited and expanded. Journal of The Royal Society Interface, 14: 20170213. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsif.2017.0213 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1098/rsif.2017.0213

Niemc A, Remisiewicz M, Avni J & Underhill LG. 2018. Sexual dimorphism in adult Little Stints (Calidris minuta) revealed by DNA sexing and discriminant analysis. PeerJ 6: e5367. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.5367 DOI: https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.5367

Oudman T, Schekkerman H, Didee A, van Roomen M, Camara M, Smit C, Ten Hord J, Piersma T & El-Hacen M. 2020. Changes in the waterbird community of the Parc National de Banc d’Arguin, Mauritania 1980–2017. Bird Conservation International 30: 618–633. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0959270919000431 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0959270919000431

Pearson DJ. 1987. The status, migrations and seasonality of the Little Stint in Kenya. Ringing & Migration 8: 91–108. https://doi.org/10.1080/03078698.1987.9673906 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/03078698.1987.9673906

Pettersson J. & Hasselquist D. 1985. Fat deposition and migration capacity of Robins Erithacus rubecula and Goldcrests Regulus regulus at Ottenby, Sweden. Ringing and Migration 6: 66–76.

https://doi.org/10.1080/03078698.1985.9673859 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/03078698.1985.9673859

Prater AJ, Marchant JH & Vuorinen J. 1977. Guide to identification and ageing of Holarctic waders. British Trust for Ornithology, Tring, UK.

Rönnberg C & Bonsdorff E. 2004. Baltic Sea eutrophication: area-specific ecological consequences. Hydrobiologia 514: 227–241. https://doi.org/10.1023/B:HYDR.0000019238.84989.7f DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-017-0920-0_21

Simmons RE, Kolberg H, Braby R & Erni B. 2015. Declines in migrant shorebird populations from a winter-quarter perspective. Conservation Biology 29: 877–887. https://doi.org/10.1111/cobi.12493 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/cobi.12493

Studds CE, Kendall BE, Murray NJ, Wilson HB, Rogers DI, Clemens RS, Gosbell K, Hassell CJ, Jessop R, Melville DS, Milton DA, Minton CDT, Possingham HP, Riegen AC, Straw P, Woehler EJ & Fuller RA. 2017. Rapid population decline in migratory shorebirds relying on Yellow Sea tidal mudflats as stopover sites. Nature Communications 8: 14985. https://doi.org/10.1038/ncomms14895 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/ncomms14895

Tingley MP & Huybers P. 2013. Recent temperature extremes at high northern latitudes unprecedented in the past 600 years. Nature 496: 201–205. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature11969 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/nature11969

Toms MP. Little Stint Calidris minuta. 2002. In The Migration Atlas: movements of the birds of Britain and Ireland (Wernham CV, Toms MP, Marchant JH, Clark JA, Siriwardena GM & Baille SR, eds). T. & A. D. Poyser, London, UK.

Tomkovich PS & Soloviev MY. 1994. Site fidelity in High Arctic breeding waders. Ostrich 65: 174–180. https://doi.org/10.1080/00306525.1994.9639680 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/00306525.1994.9639680

Tulp I, Schekkerman H, Chylarecki P, Tomkovick P, Soloviev M, Bruinzeel L, van Dijk K, Hildén O, Hötker H, Kania W, van Roomen M, Sikora A & Summers R. 2002. Body mass patterns of Little Stints at different latitudes during incubation and chick-rearing. Ibis 144: 122–134. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.0019-1019.2001.00014.x DOI: https://doi.org/10.1046/j.0019-1019.2001.00014.x

van Gils JA, Lisovski S, Lok T, Meissner W, Ożarowska A, de Fouw J, Rakhimberdiev E, Soloviev MY, Piersma T & Klaassen M. 2016. Body shrinkage due to Arctic warming reduces red knot fitness in tropical wintering range. Science. 352: 819–821. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aad6351 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aad6351

van Roomen M, Nagy S, Citegetse G & Schekkerman H (eds). 2018. East Atlantic Flyway Assessment 2017: the status of coastal waterbird populations and their sites. Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative p/a CWSS, Wilhelmshaven, Germany; Wetlands International, Wageningen, The Netherlands; BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK.

Waldenström J & Lindström Å. 2001. Migration and morphometrics of the Broad-billed sandpiper Limicola falcinellus at Ottenby, southern Sweden, 1950–2000. Ornis Fennica 78: 184–192.

Wetlands International. 2012. Waterbird Population Estimates, Fifth Edition. Summary Report. Wetlands International, Wageningen, The Netherlands. Available at https://www.wetlands.org/publications/waterbird-populations-estimates-fifth-edition/

Zwarts L, Ens BJ, Kersten M & Piersma T. 1990. Moult, mass and flight range of waders ready to take off for long-distance migrations. Ardea 78: 339–364. https://doi.org/10.5253/arde.v78.p339 DOI: https://doi.org/10.5253/arde.v78.p339




How to Cite

Waldenström, J., van Toor, M., & Lindström, Åke. (2023). Long-term trends in abundance, phenology, and morphometrics of Little Stint Calidris minuta during autumn migration in southern Sweden, 1946–2020. Ornis Svecica, 33, 30–48. https://doi.org/10.34080/os.v33.23489



Research Papers

Most read articles by the same author(s)

1 2 3 4 5 > >>