Rufa Red Knot

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Click the thumbnail below to learn more about Rufa Red Knot migration.

Rufa Red Knot (Calidris conutus rufa)
Status: Threatened
Listed: December 11, 2014

For questions regarding the Red Knot in Arkansas, please contact Melissa Lombardi at melissa_lombardi@fws.gov or 501-513-4488.

Species Facts:
The rufa red knot is one of six recognized subspecies of red knots. Each recognized subspecies is believed to occupy separate breeding areas in addition to having distinctive morphology (i.e. body size and plumage), migration routes, and annual cycles. The rufa red knot is a medium-sized (9 to 11 inches) shorebird, with distinctive red breeding plumage on the face, breast, and upper belly. Non-breeding plumage is dusky-gray.

The red knot makes one of the longest yearly migrations of any bird (up to 19,000 miles annually) as it travels from its breeding grounds in the Arctic to its wintering grounds in the Southeast U.S., the Northeast Guld of Mexica, northern Brazil, and Tierra del Fuego at the southern tip of South America.

The red knot is a specialized molluscivore, eating hard-shelled mollusks, sometimes supplemented with easily-accessed soft invertebrate prey, such as crustaceans, and marine worms. During the spring migration, red knots feed primarily on the eggs of horseshoe crabs, particulary during the key migration stopover within the Delaware Bay of New Jersey and Delaware. This area serves as the principal spring migration stating area for the red knot, as horseshoe crabs spawn primarily in Delaware Bay in the spring; the eggs are a superabundant source of easily digestible food.

Habitat Summary:
Red knots breed in the central Canadian Arctic trundra and winter on coasts in the Southeast U.S., the Northeast Guld of Mexica, northern Brazil, and Tierra del Fuego at the southern tip of South America. Coastal habitat is also used during migration.

The red knot can be found in Arkansas during migration, although it is uncommon.

Why is it endangered?
Coastal development has a large impact on the red knot, both directly and indirectly. Habitat is destroyed or altered by coastal development, but the increase in humans also increases levels of human disturbance and predation on red knots. Red knot declines in the 2000s were also linked reduced food availability due to the overharvesting of horseshoe crabs. Click the thumbnail in the sidebar to learn more.

Horseshoe crab harvest and use are currently managed to stabilize and recover red knot populations. Various conservation strategies have been created identifying actions necessary to recover red knot and other shorebird species.

Range in Arkansas:

Arkansas Field Office
110 S. Amity Road
Suite 300
Conway, AR 72032

501/513 4470 (v)
501/513 4480 (f)

Last Updated: December 30, 2015

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