Red Knot

Red Knot

Red Knots may be underwhelming in their winter colors but they’re stunning during the breeding season. In flight, their white wing bars and gray rumps and tails make them easy to identify.

Red Knots have small heads, medium-length thin bills, and stocky bodies. Breeding adults are eye-catching with their rusty cinnamon coloring. 

Their heads have some light brown streaking on the crown and their backs and wings have gray, brown, and rusty mottling. Their throats, necks, and underparts are cinnamon-colored. Their bills and legs are black. 

Nonbreeding adults and immature Red Knots look similar. They are mostly pale gray above and white below with some fine streaking underneath.

Juveniles are gray above and white below. They have a scaly pattern on their backs. They also have prominent white eyebrows. Their legs are yellow. 

  • Calidris canutus
  • Length: 9.1 – 10.6 in (23 – 27 cm)
  • Weight: 4.4 – 7.2 oz (125 – 205 g)
  • Wingspan: 22.4 – 23.6 in (57 – 60 cm)


Red Knots are breed in the arctic and migrate to coasts of North and South America. They are also found in Eurasia.

Habitat and Diet

You can find Red Knots in the tundra where plenty of lichens and grasses grow during the nesting season. Once the young are able to fly, they move toward sedge meadows and lakeshores to fatten themselves up in preparation for their long-distance migration. 

Red Knots eat a lot of mussels, clams, and cockles most of the year and they also probe in the mud for other delights. Horseshoe crab eggs in the Delaware Bay are an essential food for migrating Red Knots.

In the breeding grounds, Red Knots feed on seeds, shoots, buds, and leaves of grasses plus insects.

Red Knot call:


Nests of Red Knots are prepared by males and they make as many as 5 nest sites for the female to choose from. These are usually located on dry tundra and near water.

The female Red Knot usually lays up to four eggs and both adults incubate the eggs for about three weeks. When the eggs hatch, the young are able to forage with their parents within a day. 

Fun Fact:

Female Red Knots leave their young before they fledge and the male takes over parenting duties. The male soon leaves for their migration and the young will migrate on their own.