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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 06, 2021

21 Amaze-wing Facts About The Red Knot For Kids

Interesting red knot facts include these small, red knot Calidris canutus birds are strong fliers, covering 18,000 mi (28968.192 km) during migration!

The red knot Calidris canutus is a species of bird found across a large home range, covering tundra areas and the Arctic Cordillera region. They are small-sized birds weighing under 0.4 lb (0.2 kg), with small eyes, thin black legs, and a short black bill. While these rufa red knot birds have a relatively dull profile with a uniform gray plumage, they have an incredible story to tell with their sheer resilience. You see, the brilliance of these small birds lies in their fascinating migration journey!

Their tundra home range becomes inhabitable during winter. So they undertake a winter journey across the pole, right up to the tidal flats in Tierra del Fuego, South America. (That is 9,000 mi [14,484 km] one way!) The exact route differs across subspecies. Some red knot birds cover Europe and North America (including the United States) during this long flight. So they are found on sandy beaches along the Atlantic coast before reaching South America.

Once winter is over, they travel back to the Arctic zone with another 9,000 mi (14,484 km) trip. This includes several stopovers, including Delaware Bay in North America. Here, they feed on horseshoe crabs and horseshoe crab eggs. This protein-rich sustenance is critical for them to complete the rest of their magnificent migration journey.

By the end of this article, you will have knowledge of the red knot habitat, the red knot bird characteristics, red knot winter plumage, and red knot migration.

You may also check out the fact files on bee hummingbirds and orb-spider weavers from Kidadl.

Red Knot Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a red knot?

Red knots, Calidris canutus, are small-sized birds. They also go by the nickname, 'Robin Snipe,' in the United States.

What class of animal does a red knot belong to?

The red knot, Calidris canutus, belongs to the Aves class of animals.

How many red knots are there in the world?

There are an estimated 1.1 million Calidris canutus rufa red birds all around the planet. This includes tundra areas in the wild (during summer) and on sandy beaches along the coasts (in winter and spring).

The conservation of the Calidris canutus rufa species is not yet a concern. However, experts have observed a steady decline in their population due to multiple threats. This includes hunting, the negative effects of climate change, and the reduced availability of their prime sustenance during migration.

Where does a red knot live?

Red knots live in polar tundra areas (North America, Europe) in summer. They are found on sandy beaches along the Atlantic coast and on the tidal flats in Tierra del Fuego, South America, in winter. They are found in Europe and North America (including Delaware Bay) during spring. They return back to their home range in tundra areas just before the summer season. As you can see, these small birds have an extensive home range and traverse an 18,000 mi (28,968 km) migration journey around the globe every year! They migrate from High Arctic nesting regions to coastal areas.

What is a red knot's habitat?

The preferred habitat of red knots lies in tundra areas and the Arctic Cordillera, including Canada and parts of Europe. They also have their breeding grounds within these areas. Just before summer, the male red knots reach these breeding grounds and begin to form nests. The female red knots join soon. They collectively feed on an omnivorous diet of spiders, larvae, crabs, and shelled mollusks during the rest of the breeding season.

In winter, red knots protect themselves from the freezing tundra weather by migrating to South America. After winter, they begin their return journey with a critical stopover at Delaware bay in North America to feed on North American horseshoe crabs and horseshoe crab eggs. This protein-rich diet is critical for North American birds to complete the rest of their migration journey.

Who do red knots live with?

Red knots live in large groups called flocks. They undertake two long-distance flights with their flocks. They also tend to mate within these flocks during the breeding season.

How long does a red knot live?

The exact lifespan of knot red birds is unknown. But the oldest recorded red knot Calidris canutus bird was 19 years old.

Also, there are four constant threats to this species of birds in the wild:

Negative impacts of global climate change, making their home range in tundra areas less habitable every year.

Illegal hunting and poaching by humans (especially in North America).

Loss of habitat.

Inadequate availability of their main sustenance (horseshoe crabs and horseshoe crab eggs), in Delaware Bay in North America)

Attempts are being made to address the last two factors in North America through a federal-sponsored wildlife service.

How do they reproduce?

The red knots reproduce in Arctic regions during May and June (just before summer). For this, they undertake a long-distance spring migration journey - from the tidal flats in Tierra del Fuego, South America, back to their breeding grounds in tundra areas. The males arrive first and look for breeding sites to form nests. The females arrive soon after. Both sexes go through slight changes in appearance during the breeding season. They gain cinnamon-colored highlights along with their head, neck, breast, and belly. This is more visible in males, so they can quickly attract females to their flock.

Once the adults are paired, male red knots can get territorial about their breeding grounds, their nest, and even their female partner. They also get aggressive when other males approach their partner or their nests. The birds remain monogamous for the rest of the breeding season. The females lay eggs along the Atlantic coast. Both male and female red knot birds care for their nests and eggs until the chicks hatch. After this, the females fly away for the rest of their migration. The males stay on to care for their nests and eggs. Eventually, the males too will continue on their migration journey. Young chicks then depend on their flocks to forage for food and begin their first migration journey.

What is their conservation status?

The official conservation status of red knots is of Least Concern. But their conservation is still a concern for the future, especially in eastern North America.

Key reasons for loss of conservation include:

Hunting by humans.

Effects of climate change, making their preferred home range in tundra areas less habitable during winter.

Shortage of critical sustenance during their spring migration journey.

Rufa red knot birds feed on a protein-rich diet of horseshoe crabs and horseshoe crab eggs at Delaware Bay (U.S) as part of their spring migration. This food source has been severely affected due to the overfishing of crabs in the U.S. In fact, a large number of North American birds do not complete their flight due to malnourishment. Efforts are being made for their conservation through a government-sponsored wildlife service.

Red Knot Fun Facts

What do red knots look like?

Red knots can quickly double their body weight to prepare for a long-distance flight.

Red knot birds have a uniform gray plumage with a plump, light gray body. They also have small heads, necks and eyes, a short black bill, and thin black legs. They change color during the breeding season, with cinnamon highlights near their face, neck, breast, and stomach regions. Both males and females go through this transformation, but males have darker accents.

How cute are they?

Red knots and their subspecies have their quirks with a high cuteness quotient. For one, they have a relatively sedate, gray-colored body but with bright, chestnut-colored highlights in their plumage. They have tiny legs with which they hop around. They communicate with each other with a cherry 'knuup-knuup,' also making them a relatively melodious species.

Finally, the cuteness of these petite bird subspecies is most observed in their sheer resilience. They have the ability to fly almost 18,000 mi (28,968 km) every year just to sustain themselves during the harsh winter season!

How do they communicate?

They are relatively quiet when they are not up in the air. But when they are flying, they use two distinctive sounds to communicate. There is the 'knutt,' a single sound they use to communicate with the rest of their flock. They also use repeated 'knuup-knuup' signals during migration.

How big is a red knot?

The red knot, Calidris canutus, is a small-sized bird. It is 9-10 in (23–26 cm) long, almost twice the size of a chipping sparrow.

How fast can a red knot fly?

The speed with which red knots fly is variable. Do note their long migration flight, where they cover 9,000 mi (14,484 km) in less than a week!

How much does a red knot weigh?

A red knot Calidris canutus weighs between 3.5-7 oz (100 – 200 g). They can also double this bodyweight quickly to prepare for a long-distance flight. It is almost three times heavier than a robin.

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no sex-specific names for red knots.

What would you call a baby red knot?

A baby red knot is called a chick.

What do they eat?

Their primary food source includes arthropods (like spiders and their larvae), gastropods, hard-shelled mollusks, marine worms, horseshoe crabs, and horseshoe crab eggs. They are important because they help to control the population of these species.

Are they friendly?

They are shy creatures and prefer to live in flocks of their own.

Would they make a good pet?

Red knots depend on their critical habitat conditions to survive. They may not survive for long away from these conditions, making them an unlikely choice for a domestic pet.

Did you know...

There is a 'Red Knot' movie that has nothing to do with the bird or its subspecies! In the wild, both males and females share incubation duties in this species, much like a human family. After the red knot eggs hatch, the females leave, and the males care for the chicks until they are able to start foraging on their own for food.

What is the wingspan of a red knot?

The wingspan of a red knot is 19–21 in (47–53 cm), making them smaller than the ivory-billed woodpecker.

How far do red knot birds migrate?

In winter, red knots migrate through a long distance of 9,000+ mi (14,484 km), from their home range in Arctic regions to the tidal flats in Tierra del Fuego in South America. After winter, they undertake an equally long spring migration flight, covering Europe and North America during stopovers. With this, they travel over 18,000 mi (28,968 km) during migration. This is the longest distance covered among bird species.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds from our wandering albatross facts and shoebill facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Red Knot coloring pages.

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