Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica)

Bar-tailed Godwit

[order] CHARADRIIFORMES | [family] Scolopacidae | [latin] Limosa lapponica | [UK] Bar-tailed Godwit | [FR] Barge rousse | [DE] Pfuhlschnepfe | [ES] Aguja de Cola Pintada | [NL] Rosse Grutto


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Limosa lapponica EU n, also Alaska AF, OR, AU
Limosa lapponica baueri ne Siberia to n and w Alaska China, Australasia
Limosa lapponica lapponica n Europe Africa and India
Limosa lapponica menzbieri ne Siberia se Asia, nw Australia
Limosa lapponica taymyrensis nw and nc Siberia Africa and India

Physical charateristics

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.

Listen to the sound of Bar-tailed Godwit

[audio: Godwit.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 70 cm wingspan 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.: 21 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 4  


Eurasia : North, also Alaska


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


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.

Feeding habits

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 an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
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
Bar-tailed Godwit status Least Concern


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.

Distribution map

Bar-tailed Godwit distribution range map

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