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Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica) | by Brian Carruthers-Dublin-Eire
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Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica)

[order] Charadriiformes | [family] Scolopacidae | [latin] Limosa lapponica | [UK] Bar-Tailed Godwit | [FR] Barge rousse | [DE] Pfuhlschnepfe | [ES] Aguja de Cola Pintada | [IT] Pittima minore | [NL] Rosse Grutto



spanwidth min.: 70 cm

spanwidth max.: 80 cm

size min.: 37 cm

size max.: 39 cm


incubation min.: 20 days

incubation max.: 21 days

fledging min.: 0 days

fledging max.: 0 days

broods 1

eggs min.: 3

eggs max.: 4


Physical characteristics


Medium-sized wader (35 cm), with tail markings and slightly upcurved bill. In breeding plumage, males have rich chestnut-red heads and underparts, and dark wings and upperparts touched with small amounts of chestnut. Breeding females are less colorful than males, with some light chestnut coloring on the upper breast fading to white down below. Non-breeding birds have grayish-brown upperparts, gray streaking on the breast, and white underparts.




On its breeding grounds in Alaska, Bar-tailed Godwit nests on tundra hillsides with short shrubby growth and hummocky ground cover. Breeding habitats also include wet river valleys and open woodlands near water-bodies. Breeding birds will sometimes leave nesting habitat to feed at coastal lagoons located some distance away. During migration and on wintering grounds, Bar-tailed Godwit is found primarily on coastal mudflats


Other details


This wader inhabits arctic and subarctic regions of Eurasia and western Alaska. The birds of northern Scandinavia, European Russia and western Siberia are wintering mainly in Western Europe. They amount to about 125000 individuals. The birds breeding more to the east in Siberia are migrating along the coasts of Western Europe, but are wintering in north-western Africa




In winter, birds occur chiefly in flocks at intertidal habitats. Food consists mainly of worms, insects and rarely of seeds and small fruits. it probes in exposed mud or shallow water for crustaceans, mollusks, insects, and annelid worms. In Alaska, birds feed heavily on aquatic insects, but will occasionally eat seeds and berries.




This species has a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 100,000-1,000,000 km². It has a large global population estimated to be 1,100,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2002). Global population trends have not been quantified, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern. [conservation status from]




Males perform elaborate courtship and territorial displays in which they call loudly and circle high above the tundra in flight. The nest is a shallow depression, lined with grass, moss, and lichens, placed on a raised hummock surrounded by grass. Clutch size is usually four eggs, and both sexes participate in incubation, which lasts about three weeks. A short time after hatching, chicks are led by both parents to marshy areas, where the young find all their own food. On migration, it is believed that Alaskan breeders fly long distances over the Pacific Ocean en route to Australia and New Zealand, rather than quickly crossing the North Pacific and then moving south along the Asian coastline.




Migratory. West Palearctic breeding birds winter North Sea and Atlantic coasts of Europe and Africa, and to a lesser extent Mediterranean, Red Sea, Persian Gulf, and coasts and islands of western Indian Ocean. Always scarce to rare inland in Europe (south of breeding range), Africa, and India. Major passages in spring and autumn are through Baltic and North Seas and thence along western seaboard. In comparison, eastern passage is small: rare in east Mediterranean and on Black Sea; only slight evidence for movement via Caspian region.

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Taken on February 24, 2018