In 2010 WWT and partners travelled to Russia to help save the last of the spoon-billed sandpipers. Numbers of these birds are thought to number fewer than 100 pairs in the wild. Eggs were collected, hatched then brought back to UK, where we now have the first captive population of these birds.

Spoon-billed sandpiper from Cornell Lab of Ornithology


Watch unprecedented video footage from Cornell Lab of Ornithology of a Spoon-billed sandpiper mother and her chicks as they explore around the nest.




Conservation Problem

The incredible Spoon-billed sandpiper is hurtling towards extinction. There are probably fewer than 100 pairs remaining and the population is in freefall. Without urgent action, it will probably be gone within a decade.

The most acute cause of the rapid decline is believed to be hunting on the birds’ wintering grounds on the coast of Bangladesh and Myanmar. The species has undoubtedly also suffered as mudflats along its migratory path have been developed. Conservation for the Spoon-billed sandpiper along the East-Asian Australasian flyway could potentially help over 50 million migratory waterbirds from over 250 different populations, including 28 globally threatened species.

Project Activities

The Spoon-billed Sandpiper's flyway covers a vast area. This SOS - Save Our Species project, implemented by Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT), will focus on both the wintering and breeding sites.

At Sonadia Island in Bangladesh, the project staff will consolidate existing work with bird hunters, providing new and sustainable livelihoods. In the Chukotka region of Russia, the project will ‘head start’ birds – extracting eggs, incubating and rearing birds to fledging before releasing them back into the wild. This will massively increase the number of juveniles and allow staff to leg-flag birds for monitoring.

Project Outcomes

At Sonadia Island in Bangladesh the project aims to achieve a 75% reduction in the number of hunters and a similar reduction in the numbers of spoon-billed sandpipers trapped. Furthermore, at the end of the project, effective action by village conservation groups should be carried out on a regular basis.

At Meinypilgyno in Chukotka, the project will have ‘head-started’ 20 birds (fledged and released) with leg-flags by August 2012. Additionally, at least 15 birds will be added to the conservation breeding programme.

Click here to find out more about the Spoon-billed Sandpiper Project.

  • 2011A-022, WWT, Roland Digby, SOS, Spoon-billed Sandpipers
    Spoon-billed sandpiper numbers boosted by conservationists
    Critically endangered spoon-billed sandpipers fledglings have increased in number by a quarter in 2013, after conservationists intervened to hand rear chicks.  
  • SOS WWT 2011A-022 11A-22-24 spoon billed sandpiper SBS
    New success towards saving the Spoon-billed Sandpiper with a 2013 ‘headstarted’ hatch!
    Twenty critically endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper chicks have hatched under expert care in the Russian Far East. Conservationists took the eggs from the wild, in order to protect them from extreme w...
  • SOS WWT SBS spoon-billed sandpiper 2011A-022 11A-22-17
    Spoon-billed sandpiper “headstarting” success
    With only about 100 breeding pairs remaining in the wild, the Spoon-billed Sandpiper (Eurynorhynchus pygmeus) is in crisis. To help save this species from extinction, SOS – Save Our Species - are fina...
  • SOS WWT SBS spoon-billed 2011A-022 chick
    First ever spoon-billed sandpiper chicks hatch in the UK
    Fourteen Critically Endangered Spoon-billed Sandpipers were hatched in captivity last week after precious eggs were rushed thousands of miles from Arctic Russia to the Wildfowl and Wetlands ...
  • SOS, Birdlife International
    Remote bird breeding population discovered in Russia`s Far East
    Heritage Expeditions – a BirdLife Species Champion supporting Spoon-billed Sandpiper conservation through the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme – struck gold when they, and the passengers...
  • 11A-22-05
    Egg-weighing in WWT's headstarting project: click picture to learn more
  • SOS WWT SBS spoon-billed sandpiper 2011A-022 11A-22-17
    Ringing Spoon-billed Sandpiper as part of WWT project: Click picture to watch WWT video
SOS - Save Our Species
>> A global coalition to conserve threatened species and their habitats