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Bar-tailed Godwit - Limosa lapponica

bar-tailed godwit


 Kingdom: Animalia
 Phylum: Chordata
 Class: Aves
 Order: Charadriiformes
 Family: Scolopacidae
 Genus: Limosa
ICUN Redlist - World Status: Least Concern Least Concern


bar-tailed godwitThe bar-tailed godwit is 13-18 inches tall. In the breeding season, the male has a mottled brown back; long, black legs; and a brownish-red breast and head. The female has the same coloring, but it is a little duller. In the winter, it is a mottled grayish-brown. The bar-tailed godwit has an upturned bill and a white tail with black bars. Males and females are similar in appearance, but the female's bill is a little longer.


MapThe bar-tailed godwit breeds in northwestern Alaska and northern Europe and Asia. The bar-tailed godwit is a long-distance migrator. It winters in Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. It is occasionally seen on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the United States.



In Alaska, the bar-tailed godwit is found on the tundra in the summer. It prefers tundra areas with hummocks, or low mounds earth. During migration and in the winter, it is found on mudflats on lakes, bays, and estuaries.


bar-tailed godwitThe bar-tailed godwit eats insects in the summer. Occasionally, it eats seeds and berries. In the winter and during migration, it wades in the water, probing in the mud with its long, thin bill for mollusks, crustaceans, snails, worms, and other aquatic invertebrates.

Life Cycle

The female bar-tailed godwit lays four eggs in a depression in the ground lined with lichen, moss, and grass. Both the male and the female incubate the eggs. The chicks hatch in 20-22 days and leave the nest shortly after hatching. Both the male and female care for the young until they fledge when they are about 30 days old.


bar-tailed godwitThe bar-tailed godwits that breed in Alaska migrate over the Pacific Ocean to the coast of New Zealand and Australia, making a non-stop trip of close to 7,000 miles! Scientists think the trip takes about a week. That's one week of flying, without stopping to rest or eat! On the return trip to Alaska, the bar-tailed godwits fly to the shores of the Yellow Sea in Korea and stay for a few weeks while they eat and fatten up for the return trip to Alaska!

Audio Credit: xeno-canto.org Patrik Aberg cc logo