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Bar-tailed Godwit

From Opus

Adult winter nominate L. l. lapponicaPhoto © by RagnaTitchwell Marsh, Norfolk, November 2003
Adult winter nominate L. l. lapponica
Photo © by Ragna
Titchwell Marsh, Norfolk, November 2003
Limosa lapponica


[edit] Identification

37–41 cm (14½-16 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.

Adult summer nominate L. l. lapponicaPhoto © by postcardcvTitchwell Marsh, Norfolk
Adult summer nominate L. l. lapponica
Photo © by postcardcv
Titchwell Marsh, Norfolk

[edit] Similar Species

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.

[edit] Distribution

  • Breeds in northern Palearctic: extreme northern Scandinavia (Norway, Finland, limited in Sweden), Arctic Russia (Kola Peninsula eastwards), and Alaska.
  • 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.
Subspecies L. l. taymyrensis, wintering at west coast of India; other birds seen are Lesser Sand Plover and Terek SandpiperPhoto © by Alok TewariJamnagar, Gujarat, India, December-2017
Subspecies L. l. taymyrensis, wintering at west coast of India; other birds seen are Lesser Sand Plover and Terek Sandpiper
Photo © by Alok Tewari
Jamnagar, Gujarat, India, December-2017

[edit] Vagrancy

Vagrant north to Svalbard, Iceland and the Faroe Islands; Cyprus and eastern Mediterranean countries; Madeira and the Azores. Casual vagrant in North America on both coasts.

[edit] Taxonomy

[edit] Subspecies

Breeding plumagePhoto © by Digiscoper321West Sweden, July 2016
Breeding plumage
Photo © by Digiscoper321
West Sweden, July 2016

Two to four subspecies are accepted[1][2][3]:

  • L. l. lapponica: Rump and lower back white; underwing white.
  • L. l. taymyrensis: Intermediate between L. l. lapponica and L. l. menzbieri.
  • Central Siberia (Taymyr Peninsula); winters south-western Asia and India (included in L. l. lapponica by some authors).
  • L. l. menzbieri: Intermediate; rump, lower back and underwing lightly barred grey.
  • North-eastern Siberia; winters south-eastern Asia to coastal Australia, Tasmania (included in L. l. baueri by some authors).
  • L. l. baueri: Rump and lower back barred grey as in the back and tail; underwing strongly barred.

[edit] Habitat

  • Coastal estuaries and sheltered sandy shores.
  • Arctic breeding habitat is lowland tundra; sometimes in upland areas and among trees.

[edit] Behaviour

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)[4].

Very gregarious in the winter, forming huge flocks with other waders at the water's edge.

Juvenile L. l. lapponica Photo © by I4aniBrignogan Plage, Brittany, France, September 2008
Juvenile L. l. lapponica
Photo © by I4ani
Brignogan Plage, Brittany, France, September 2008

[edit] Diet

The diet includes worms, snails and insects.

[edit] Breeding

It nests on the ground, usually in short vegetation, in marshy areas above the tree-line.

[edit] Vocalisation

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[edit] Gallery

Click images to see larger version

[edit] References

  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from
  2. Gill, F and D Donsker (Eds). 2014. IOC World Bird Names (version 4.3). Available at
  3. 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
  4. 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): 447–457.
  5. Collins Pocket Guide to British Birds 1966
  6. Collins Field Guide 5th Edition
  7. Collins Bird Guide ISBN 0 00 219728 6

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