Hudsonian Godwit (Limosa haemastica)

Hudsonian Godwit

[order] Charadriiformes | [family] Charadriidae | [latin] Limosa haemastica | [UK] Hudsonian Godwit | [FR] Barge hudsonienne | [DE] Hudsonschnepfe | [ES] Aguja Cafe | [IT] Pittima di Hudson | [NL] Rode Grutto


Monotypic species

Physical charateristics

Hudsonian Godwit is a large shorebird with the distinctive long, upturned, bicolored bill typical of the godwits. Males in breeding plumage have a bright orange-and-black bill, a streaked head, predominantly dark upperparts, and rich rufous underparts. Females are much paler below than males, but show some light rufous coloration. In non-breeding plumage, both sexes have an overall greyish appearance, with a whitish eyeline and a whitish belly. In all plumages, Hudsonian Godwit can be differentiated from other godwits by its mainly dark underwings.

Listen to the sound of Hudsonian Godwit

[audio: Godwit.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: cm wingspan max.: cm
size min.: 37 cm size max.: 41 cm
incubation min.: 24 days incubation max.: 26 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 0 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 4  


Hudsonian Godwit can be found breeding in just five limited areas of North America: two distinct sites along Hudson Bay (one in Ontario, the other in Manitoba), along the Arctic Coast of the Northwest Territories, on the southern coast of Alaska, and along the west coast of Alaska. The species winters in southern South America, especially in southern Argentina.


On its breeding grounds, Hudsonian Godwit is found near treeline, where tundra, open woods, and ponds come together. During spring migration through central North America, it is typically found on marshy lakes, wet pastures, and mudflats around ponds. When detected in eastern North America on its fall migration, Hudsonian Godwit favors marshy ponds or tidal flats.


On breeding grounds, males display by flying high into the air while calling, gliding on wings set in a shallow “V” and calling vociferously, and then diving to the ground. The species nests on the ground in sedge marsh, on top of hummock under dwarf shrub. The nest, which is extremely difficult to find, is a shallow depression lined with a few leaves. A clutch of four eggs is incubated by both sexes for 22-25 days. The young leave the nest shortly after hatching and find their own food, but still receive care from both parents for some time. Following the breeding season, almost the entire population of Hudsonian Godwit converges along Hudson Bay and James Bay. From there, most birds appear to fly directly to northern South America, crossing the western Atlantic during the course of their flight.

Feeding habits

Most food is obtained by probing with the long bill which can be opened at the tip to grasp food. Gleaning from vegetation, mud, and the water surface is also frequent means of food acquisition.
Hudsonian godwit feeds primarily on insects inland, but also crustaceans, molluscs and marine worms. Their preys include flies, beetles, snails, molluscs, amphipods, crabs, clams and worms. During migration, they eat plant tubers.


This species has a large range, with an estimated global extent of occurrence of 180,000 km2. It has a large global population estimated to be 50,000 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.
Hudsonian Godwit status Least Concern


Hudsonian Godwit is a large, impressive shorebird with a remarkable fall migration pattern. During late summer, the vast majority of the population congregates at staging sites along James Bay, Ontario. From there, most birds fly directly to northern South America, traversing a large portion of the Atlantic Ocean in the process. This species’ small population size, together with its reliance on a small number of breeding and migratory staging sites, makes it a shorebird of high conservation concern.

Distribution map

Hudsonian Godwit range map


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