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Black-tailed Godwit
Bang Pu, Thailand
January 8, 2011


The Black-tailed Godwit, Limosa limosa, is a large shorebird. It is a relatively long-legged member of the godwit genus.

at Chilika, Orissa, India. at Bharatpur, Rajasthan, India. Black-tailed Goodwits (Limosa limosa) with a Black-winged Stilt at Sultanpur National Park in Gurgaon District of Haryana, India.

Adults have blue-grey legs and a very long straight bill with a slight upward curve and pink at the base. The neck, breast and belly are brick red in breeding plumage, off white in winter. The back is mottled grey.

Their breeding habitat is temperate wetlands in Europe and Asia on open grassland. They nest on the ground, usually in short vegetation, laying 3-6 eggs.

They migrate in flocks to western Europe, Africa, south Asia and Australia. Interestingly, although this species occurs in Ireland and Great Britain all year round, they are not the same birds. The breeding birds depart in autumn, but are replaced in winter by the larger Icelandic race, L. l. islandica. These birds occasionally appear in the Aleutian Islands and, rarely, on the Atlantic coast of North America.

These birds forage by probing on mudflats or in marshes. In short vegetation, they may pick up insects by sight. They mainly eat insects and crustaceans, but also eat parts of aquatic plants. They are much more likely to be found on freshwater than the coastal Bar-tailed Godwit. In flight, they can be distinguished from the Hudsonian Godwit by their white wing linings with black edges.

In 2006 BirdLife International classified this species as Near Threatened due to a decline in numbers of around 25% in the previous 15 years. It is also among the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.


There are three subspecies:

  • Icelandic Black-tailed Godwit, L. l. islandica
  • European Black-tailed Godwit, L. l. limosa
  • Asian Black-tailed Godwit, L. l. melanuroides

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