Eurasian woodcock Scolopax rusticola, photographed by Ingvar Torsson.

Belongs within: Charadriiformes.
Contains: Numenius, Limosa, Calidris, Tringa, Gallinago.

The Scolopacidae are a clade of wading birds including the woodcocks, snipes, sandpipers and related taxa. Most scolopacids tend to have relatively long, slender bills, and are most often coloured (at least in the non-breeding season) in variegated browns or greys. The majority of scolopacids are associated with coastal or other damp habitats but the woodcocks Scolopax are woodland birds, as are the New Zealand snipes of the genus Coenocorypha. Members of the genera Scolopax, Coenocorypha and Gallinago are all relatively stocky, shorter-legged forms with long, straight bills. The jack snipe Lymnocryptes minima of Asia is a smaller, shorter-billed species. Snipes and woodcocks also differ from other scolopacids in lacking distinct breeding and non-breeding plumages.

The phalaropes of the genus Phalaropus have historically been treated as a separate family but are nested within the Scolopacidae by phylogenetic analysis (Jetz et al. 2012). Phalaropes have toes with extended lateral membranes and feed while spinning on the surface of the water to stir up small aquatic invertebrates.

The turnstones of the genus Arenaria are relatively small, stocky shore birds with a comparatively short, slightly upturned bill that is used for turning over stones and other coastal debris when foraging.

Prosobonia cancellata
Published 18 December 2009
Prosobonia cancellata, photographed by Ron Hoff.

Prosobonia cancellata, the Tuamotu sandpiper, is a small to medium-sized bird found on a small number of coral atolls in French Polynesia. It is currently endangered with probably about 1200–1300 surviving individuals in 2003, mostly on the two islands of Tenararo and Morane (Pierce & Blanvillain, 2004). Zusi & Jehl (1970) included Prosobonia in the subfamily Tringinae, which also includes the Tringa sandpipers, Numenius (curlews) and Limosa (godwits). Prosobonia differs from these genera in living higher up on the shoreline, including the atoll forest, feeding on small invertebrates gleaned among leaf litter and off trees. They also seem to eat a reasonable amount of plant material such as seeds.

Other Prosobonia species were once found on a number of tropical Polynesian islands, while P. cancellata itself was previously more widespread with a range extending to Kiritimati (Christmas Island) in Kiribati. Some authors have regarded the Tuamotu and Kiritimati populations as separate subspecies or species, but Zusi and Jehl (1970) pointed out that the only known specimen from Kiritimati (unfortunately no longer available) probably lay within the known range of variation for Tuamotu specimens. Prosobonia leucoptera was found on Tahiti and Moorea (again, some authors have regarded the two populations as separate species) while undescribed subfossils have been found on Henderson, Marquesas and Cook Islands. Prosobonia cancellata has also been placed in a separate genus, Aechmorhynchus, from P. leucoptera, but again Zusi & Jehl established that significant differences between the two species were few except for coloration pattern (P. cancellata has barred plumage, while P. leucoptera was plainer) so there can be little doubt of their close relationship relative to other taxa.

Systematics of Scolopacidae
<==Scolopacidae [Numeniini, Scolopacea, Scolopacinae, Scolopacoidea, Tringidae, Tringinae]
    |  `--Bartramia Lesson 1831 non Hedw. 1801 (ICBN)BKB15, CC10 [Bartramiini]
    |       `--B. longicauda (Bechstein 1811) [=Tringa longicauda; incl. *B. laticauda]CC10
          |  `--Arenaria Brisson 1760BKB15, CC10 (see below for synonymy)
          |       |--*A. interpres (Linnaeus 1758)CC10 (see below for synonymy)
          |       |    |--A. i. interpresCC10
          |       |    `--A. i. morinella (Linnaeus 1766)CC10
          |       `--A. melanocephala (Vigors 1829) [=Strepsilas melanocephala]S05
          `--+--+--Actitis Illiger 1811BKB15, CC10
             |  |    |--*A. hypoleucos (Linnaeus 1758) [=Tringa hypoleucos, A. hypoleucus]CC10
             |  |    |--A. balcanica Boev 1998M02
             |  |    `--A. macularia (Linné 1766) [=Tringa macularia, Totanus macularius, Tringoides macularia]S05
             |  `--+--TringaBKB15
             |     `--+--Xenus Kaup 1829BKB15, CC10 [incl. Terekia Bonaparte 1838CC10]
             |        |    `--*X. cinereus (Güldenstaedt 1774) (see below for synonymy)CC10
             |        `--Phalaropus Brisson 1760BKB15, CC10 (see below for synonymy)
             |             |  i. s.: P. eleonorae Kurochkin 1985U93
             |             |         P. platyrhynchusB42
             |             |         P. wilsoniiF43
             |             |--P. tricolor (Vieillot 1819)BKB15, CC10 [=*Steganopus tricolorCC10]
             |             `--+--*P. fulicarius (Linnaeus 1758)CC10, BKB15, CC10 [=Tringa fulicariaCC10, *Crymophilus fulicariusCC10]
             |                `--P. lobatus (Linnaeus 1758)BKB15, CC10 (see below for synonymy)
             `--+--Lymnocryptes Kaup 1829BKB15, M02 [Lymnocryptinae]
                |    `--L. minimus (Brünnich 1764) [=Scolopax minima]M02
                `--+--Limnodromus Wied 1833BKB15, CC10 [Limnodrominae]
                   |    |--L. griseusBKB15 [incl. Scolopax novaeboracensisCC10, *L. novaeboracensisCC10]
                   |    |--L. scolopaceusBKB15
                   |    `--L. semipalmatus (Blyth 1848) [=Macrorhamphus semipalmatus]CC10
                      |  `--Coenocorypha Gray 1855BKB15, CC10
                      |       |--*C. aucklandica (Gray 1845) [=Gallinago aucklandica, Scolopax auclandica]CC10
                      |       |    |--C. a. aucklandica (see below for synonymy)CC10
                      |       |    `--C. a. meinertzhagenae Rothschild 1927CC10
                      |       |--C. barrierensis Oliver 1955 [=C. aucklandica barrierensis]CC10
                      |       |--C. chathamica (Forbes 1893) [=Gallinago chathamica]CC10
                      |       |--C. huegeli (Tristram 1893) [=Gallinago huegeli, C. aucklandica huegeli]CC10
                      |       |--C. iredalei Rothschild 1921 [=C. aucklandica iredalei]CC10
                      |       `--C. pusilla (Buller 1869) [=Gallinago pusilla, C. aucklandica pusilla]CC10
                      `--Scolopax Linnaeus 1758BKB15, M02
                           |--S. aegocephala LinnaeusL58
                           |--S. alba Linnaeus 1758L58
                           |--S. anthonyiSWK87
                           |--S. baranensis Jánossy 1979M02
                           |--S. bukidnonensisJT12
                           |--S. carmesinae Seguí 1999M02
                           |--S. celebensisJT12
                           |--S. fedoa Linnaeus 1758L58
                           |--S. fusca Linnaeus 1758L58
                           |--S. gallinulaB42
                           |--S. majorV41
                           |--S. minorBKB15
                           |--S. mira Hartert 1916I92
                           |--S. paraguaiaeF43
                           |--S. rochusseniiJT12
                           |--S. rosenbergiiJT12
                           |--S. rubra Linnaeus 1758L58
                           |--S. rusticola Linnaeus 1758 [incl. S. rusticola magnus Potapova 1990]M02
                           |--S. saturataJT12
                           |--S. semipalmata [=Totanus semipalmatus]J23
                           `--S. totanus Linnaeus 1758L58
Scolopacidae incertae sedis:
  Philohela minorA61
  Rhyacophilus solitariusSS66a
  Actiturus bartramiusSS66b
  Elorius Milne-Edwards 1868M02
    `--*E. paludicola Milne-Edwards 1868M02
  Prosobonia Bonaparte 1850 [Prosoboniini]B94
    |--P. cancellataJT12
    |--P. ellisiHSS13
    `--P. leucopteraHSS13
  Macrorhamphus Leach 1816S05
    `--M. griseus (Gmelin 1788) [=Scolopax grisea, Ereunetes griseus]S05
         |--M. g. griseus [incl. Totanus noveboracensis Sabine 1823, Scolopax noveboracensis]S05
         `--M. g. scolopaceus (Say 1823) [=Limosa scolopacea, Ereunetes griseus scolopaceus]S05
  Helodromas Kaup 1829S05
    `--H. ochropusS05
  Arquatella Baird 1858S05
    |--A. couesi Ridgeway 1880 [=Tringa (Arquatella) maritinma var. couesi]S05
    `--A. maritima (Brünnich 1764) [=Tringa maritima; incl. T. striata Pearson 1896]S05
  Pavoncella Leach 1816S05

Arenaria Brisson 1760BKB15, CC10 [=Cinclus Gray 1841 non Borkhausen 1797CC10, Morinella Mayer & Wolf 1810CC10, Strepsilas Illiger 1811CC10; Arenariinae, Cinclinae, Morinellinae, Strepsilinae]

*Arenaria interpres (Linnaeus 1758)CC10 [=Tringa interpresCC10, *Cinclus interpresCC10, *Strepsilas interpresCC10, *Morinella collaris Meyer & Wolf 1810CC10, S. collarisCC10; incl. Charadrius cinclus Pallas 1811CC10, Arenaria interpres cinclusCC10, A. interpres nova Mathews 1917WS48, Tringa oahuensis Bloxham in Byron 1826CC10, Morinella interpres oahuensisCC10]

Coenocorypha aucklandica aucklandica (Gray 1845) [incl. Scolopax holmesii Peale 1848, Gallinago tristrami Rothschild 1893, Coenocorypha aucklandica tristrami]CC10

Phalaropus Brisson 1760BKB15, CC10 [=Crymophilus Vieillot 1816CC10, Phalaridopus Olphe-Galliard 1888B94; incl. Lobipes Cuvier 1817CC10, Steganopus Vieillot 1819CC10; Lobipodinae, Phalaridopodidae, Phalaropodidae, Phalaropodinae]

Phalaropus lobatus (Linnaeus 1758)BKB15, CC10 [=Tringa tobataCC10, Lobipes lobatusCC10, T. lobataCC10; incl. Phalaropus cinereus Heuglin 1872S05, P. hyperboreus Swainson & Richardson 1831S05, *Lobipes hyperboreusCC10, Tringa hyperboreaCC10]

*Xenus cinereus (Güldenstaedt 1774) [=Scolopax cinerea, Terekia cinerea, Tringa cinerea; incl. Totanus javanicus Horsfield 1821, *Terekia javanica, Scolopax terek Latham 1790, Tringa terek]CC10

*Type species of generic name indicated


[A61] Austin, O. L., Jr. 1961. Birds of the World: A survey of the twenty-seven orders and one hundred and fifty-five families. Paul Hamlyn: London.

[B42] Blyth, E. 1842. Abstract of a letter relating to various species of birds which are found both in India and Europe. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 10: 93–94.

[B94] Bock, W. J. 1994. History and nomenclature of avian family-group names. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 222: 1–281.

[BKB15] Burleigh, J. G., R. T. Kimball & E. L. Braun. 2015. Building the avian tree of life using a large-scale, sparse supermatrix. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 84: 53–63.

[CC10] Checklist Committee (OSNZ). 2010. Checklist of the Birds of New Zealand, Norfolk and Macquarie Islands, and the Ross Dependency, Antarctica 4th ed. Ornithological Society of New Zealand and Te Papa Press: Wellington.

[F43] Fraser, L. 1843. On the collection of birds brought to England by Mr. Bridges. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 11: 108–121.

[HSS13] Hirschfeld, E., A. Swash & R. Still. 2013. The World’s Rarest Birds. Princeton University Press: Princeton (New Jersey).

[I92] Iwahashi, J. (ed.) 1992. Reddo Deeta Animaruzu: a pictorial of Japanese fauna facing extinction. JICC: Tokyo.

[J23] James, E. 1823. Account of an Expedition from Pittsburgh to the Rocky Mountains, performed in the years 1819 and ’20, by order of the Hon. J. C. Calhoun, sec’y of war: under the command of Major Stephen H. Long. From the notes of Major Long, Mr. T. Say, and other gentlemen of the exploring party vol. 1. H. C. Carey & I. Lea: Philadelphia.

[JT12] Jetz, W., G. H. Thomas, J. B. Joy, K. Hartmann & A. Ø. Mooers. 2012. The global diversity of birds in space and time. Nature 491: 444–448.

[L58] Linnaeus, C. 1758. Systema Naturae per Regna Tria Naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I. Editio decima, reformata. Laurentii Salvii: Holmiae.

[M02] Mlíkovský, J. 2002. Cenozoic Birds of the World. Part 1: Europe. Ninox Press: Praha.

Pierce, R. J., & C. Blanvillain. 2004. Current status of the endangered Tuamotu sandpiper or titi Prosobonia cancellata and recommended actions for its recovery. Wader Study Group Bulletin 105: 93–100.

[S05] Schalow, H. 1905. Die Vögel der Arktis. In: Römer, F., & F. Schaudinn (eds) Fauna Arctica. Eine Zusammenstellun der arktischen Tierformen, mit besonder Berücksichtigung des Spitzbergen-Gebietes auf Grund der Ergebnisse der Deutschen Expedition in das Nördliche Eismeer im Jahre 1898 vol. 4 pp. 79–288. Gustav Fischer: Jena.

[SS66a] Sclater, P. L., & O. Salvin. 1866a. Catalogue of birds collected by Mr. E. Bartlett on the River Uyacali, Eastern Peru, with notes and descriptions of new species. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1866: 175–201.

[SS66b] Sclater, P. L., & O. Salvin. 1866b. On some additions to the catalogue of birds collected by Mr. E. Bartlett on the River Ucayali. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1866: 566–567.

[SWK87] Snyder, N. F. R., J. W. Wiley & C. B. Kepler. 1987. The Parrots of Luquillo: Natural history and conservation of the Puerto Rican parrot. Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology: Los Angeles.

[U93] Unwin, D. M. 1993. Aves. In: Benton, M. J. (ed.) The Fossil Record 2 pp. 717–737. Chapman & Hall: London.

[V41] Vigne, G. T. 1841. Relating to a collection of birds formed in Thibet and Cashmere. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 9: 6–7.

[WS48] Whittell, H. M., & D. L. Serventy. 1948. A systematic list of the birds of Western Australia. Public Library, Museum and Art Gallery of Western Australia, Special Publication 1: 1–126.

Zusi, R. L., & J. R. Jehl Jr. 1970. The systematic relationships of Aechmorhynchus, Prosobonia, and Phegornis (Charadriiformes; Charadrii). Auk 87: 760–780.

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