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37â€“41 cm (14Â½-16 in)
In breeding plumage: belly rufous with no or little barring, upperparts dark, and bill slightly upturned, dark with paler base.
In non-breeding plumage: breast finely streaked grey, belly whitish, back grey with streaking, bill bicoloured with pink base, and long supercilium extending back past eye.
In juvenile plumage: breast pale buff-grey, back patterned with white and buffy-grey, upturned bill bicoloured, and long supercilium extending back past eye.
In flight: inner wings grey, outer wing dark grey; no wingbar. Tail finely barred grey. Rump and lower back white or grey, depending on subspecies.
Migration most active March to early June (south to north), and August-October (north to south). Seen regularly en route through the Baltic Sea, North Sea, and Atlantic coasts. Rare to find any distance inland.
Winters to southern Africa and Australasia. Immature birds (one year old) often remain in the wintering range for their entire first summer.
A very strong migrant; L. l. baueri makes the longest non-stop flights of any bird, over 11,500 km from Alaska to New Zealand during autumn migration (but two stages on spring migration, with a stop-over on the east coast of China).
Very gregarious in the winter, forming huge flocks with other waders at the water's edge.
Del Hoyo, J, A Elliot, and J Sargatal, eds. 1996. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 3: Hoatzin to Auks. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8487334207
Gill, R. E., Tibbitts, T. L., Douglas, D. C., Handel, C. M., Mulcahy, D. M., Gottschalck, J. C., Warnock, N., McCaffery, B. J., Battley, P. F., & Piersma, T. (2008). Extreme endurance flights by landbirds crossing the Pacific Ocean: ecological corridor rather than barrier? Proc Biol Sci. 276 (1656): 447â€“457.
McCaffery, Brian J. and Robert E. Gill. (2001). Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica), The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America: https://birdsna.org/Species-Account/bna/species/batgod DOI: 10.2173/bna.581
Piersma, T., Lok, T., Chen, Y., Hassell, C. J., Yang, H.-Y., Boyle, A., Slaymaker, M., Chan, Y.-C., Melville, D. S., Zhang, Z.-W. and Ma, Z. (2016), Simultaneous declines in summer survival of three shorebird species signals a flyway at risk. J Appl Ecol, 53: 479Ã±490. doi:10.1111/1365-2664.12582
Van Gils, J., Wiersma, P., Sharpe, C.J. & Boesman, P. (2017). Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from http://www.hbw.com/node/53890 on 26 March 2017).
Woodley, K. 2013. Bar-tailed godwit in Miskelly, C.M. (ed.) New Zealand Birds Online. www.nzbirdsonline.org.nz