Courtesy Kenn Kaufman
Red Knots breed in extreme northern Alaska, Canada, northern Greenland, and Russia. They winter locally at coastal sites from California and Massachusetts in the U.S., and southward to southern South America, as well as from Europe to Africa, Asia, and Australia.
A legend for the range map to the right can be found here
Red Knots breed in dry tundra areas, such as sparsely vegetated hillsides. Outside of the breeding season, knots are found primarily in intertidal marine habitats, especially near coastal inlets, estuaries, and bays.
In the non-breeding season, Red Knots feed principally on marine invertebrates such as small snails, crustaceans, and especially, small mollusks swallowed whole. The huge flocks that gather during spring migration on Delaware Bay gorge as well on the horseshoe crabs eggs laid in late May. These birds also eat plant material early in the breeding season, when insects are scarce. During breeding season, the knots eat a variety of terrestrial invertebrates, either pecking at surface prey or probing for buried prey. Instead of regurgitating indigestible parts of prey, as do many bird species, the Red Knot excretes these parts in the feces. Researchers have used fecal content to examine food consumption habits.
Male Red Knots display with aerial singing. Despite their winter flocking behavior, pairs maintain breeding territories and nest about three quarters of a mile apart from each other. The nest is a cup-shaped depression on ground lined with dried leaves, grasses, and lichens. The female lays four olive-colored eggs with brown markings. The downy young leave the nest almost immediately.
The species' five recognized subspecies breed around the Arctic polar regions, in some of the coldest regions of the earth, then winter in some of the hottest. Each subspecies has slightly different physical features but strikingly different migration strategies; one subspecies travels 9,300 miles from its Arctic breeding grounds to Tierra del Fuego in southern South America. The species is well suited for studying the development of avian migration, and the development of conservation strategies for long-distance migrants.