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The Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica) is a large wader in the family Scolopacidae. The genus name Limosa is from Latin and means "muddy", from limus, "mud". The specific lapponica refers to Lapland. The English term "godwit" was first recorded in about 1416–7 and is believed to imitate the bird's call.
The Bar-tailed Godwit breeds on Arctic coasts and tundra mainly in the Old World, and winters on coasts in temperate and tropical regions of the Old World and of Australia and New Zealand. Its migration includes the longest known non-stop flight of any bird and also the longest journey without pausing to feed by any animal.
The global population is estimated to number 1,099,000-1,149,000 individuals.
Range map from www.oiseaux.net - Ornithological Portal Oiseaux.net
www.oiseaux.net is one of those MUST visit pages if you're in to bird watching. You can find just about everything there
The Bar-tailed Godwit is a relatively short-legged species of godwit. The bill-to-tail length is 37–41 cm, with a wingspan of 70–80 cm. Males average smaller than females but with much overlap; males weigh 190–400 g, while females weigh 260–630 g; there is also some regional variation in size (see subspecies, below).
The adult has blue-grey legs and a slightly upturned bi-colored bill, pink at the base and black towards the tip. The neck, breast and belly are unbroken brick red in breeding plumage, off white in winter. The back is mottled grey.
It is distinguished from the black-tailed godwit (Limosa limosa) by its barred, rather than wholly black, tail and a lack of white wing bars. The most similar species is the Asiatic dowitcher.
Length: 41 cm
Wingspan: 70 - 80 cm
Weight: 262 - 630 g
Longevity: 18 years
• Black-tailed Godwit, which has a straighter bill, solid black tail tip, and strong white wingbar; and from Eurasian Curlew and Whimbrel which both have down-curved beaks.
I have tried to become a member in the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO). Two times now and it is a monthly fee, but only auto debit (from a UK bank) and I will have to wait until they can do it with Paypal or credit card.
I also found the web page https://www.rspb.org.uk and they have some excellent drawings of the Bar-tailed Godwit and Bar-tailed Godwit and it is easy to see the difference.
Natural vocalization; song in display flight from a male bird over somewhat dry tundra with patches of wetter habitat.
During the display flight the bird would fly horizontally about 100 feet off the ground in no particular pattern that I could discern.
There are three subspecies, listed from west to east:
• L. l. lapponica - (Linnaeus, 1758): Breeds from northern Scandinavia east to the Taymyr Peninsula; winters western coasts of Europe and Africa from the British Isles and the Netherlands south to South Africa, and also around the Persian Gulf. Smallest subspecies, males up to 360 g, females to 450 g.
• L. l. menzbieri - Portenko, 1936: Breeds northeastern Asia from the Taymyr Peninsula east to the Kolyma River delta; winters southeastern Asia and Australia. Intermediate between the other two subspecies.
• L. l. baueri - Naumann, 1836: (called 'Kūaka' in Māori) Breeds far northeastern Asia east of the Kolyma River, and western Alaska; winters in Australia and New Zealand. Largest subspecies.
It forages by probing in mudflats or marshes. It may find insects by sight in short vegetation. It eats mainly insects and crustaceans, but also parts of aquatic plants.
The Bar-tailed Godwit is a non-breeding migrant in Australia. Breeding take place each year in Scandinavia, northern Asia, and Alaska. The nest is a shallow cup in moss sometimes lined with vegetation. Both sexes share incubation of the eggs and care for the young.
Egg in the collection of MHNT
By Didier Descouens - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,
The Bar-tailed Godwit migrates in flocks to coastal East Asia, Alaska, Australia, Africa, northwestern Europe and New Zealand.
It was shown in 2007 to undertake the longest non-stop flight of any bird. Birds in New Zealand were tagged and tracked by satellite to the Yellow Sea in China. According to Dr. Clive Minton (Australasian Wader Studies Group): "The distance between these two locations is 9,575 km, but the actual track flown by the bird was 11,026 km. This was the longest known non-stop flight of any bird. The flight took approximately nine days. At least three other Bar-tailed Godwits also appear to have reached the Yellow Sea after non-stop flights from New Zealand."
One specific female of the flock, nicknamed "E7", flew onward from China to Alaska and stayed there for the breeding season. Then on 29 August 2007 she departed on a non-stop flight from the Avinof Peninsula in western Alaska to the Piako River near Thames, New Zealand, setting a new known flight record of 11,680 km.
Routes of satellite tagged Bar-tailed Godwits migrating
north from New Zealand to Korea and China
Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1943223
CLICK HERE for full size map - Distribution of the five subspecies of Limosa
lapponica, showing Northern Hemisphere summer showing Northern Hemisphere
non-breeding summer breeding grounds (red), overwintering areas (blue)
and migration routes in each direction
By Onioram - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,
The Bar-tailed Godwit is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.
The Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds, or African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement (AEWA) is an independent international treaty developed under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme's Convention on Migratory Species.
It was founded to coordinate efforts to conserve bird species migrating between European and African nations, and its current scope stretches from the Arctic to South Africa, encompassing the Canadian archipelago and the Middle East as well as Europe and Africa.
The agreement focuses on bird species that depend on wetlands for at least part of their lifecycle and cross international borders in their migration patterns. It currently covers 254 species.
Ban on lead shot
The use of lead shot over wetlands has been banned by the signatories to the convention on account of the poisoning it causes.