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Black-tailed Godwit - BirdForum Opus

(Redirected from Limosa limosa)
Breeding plumage
Photo © by Alok Tewari
Basai Wetlands, Gugaon, Haryana, India, 31 March 2015
Limosa limosa


Molting adult female
Photo © by Avi Meir
Eilat, Israel, 11 March 2006

36–44 cm (14-17¼ in)
Straight, flesh-coloured bill with dark tip
Greyish legs
Summer Adult Cinnamon-pink head, neck and breast. Brown, streaked black, upperparts. White wing-bar and dark wing tips. The white tail has a black bar at the tip. Belly white, marked with black.
Winter Adult The pink parts become greyish, upperparts greyer and the belly loses the streaks.

Similar Species

Bar-tailed Godwit whose bill has a slightly upcurved tip and narrowly barred tail (see comparison image[1]). Hudsonian Godwit of the Americas can be distinguished in all plumages by its underwing patterns, white in Black-tailed and mostly dark in Hudsonian. Also the bill is straight on Black-tailed, not noticeably upturned as in Hudsonian. Black-tailed has a broader, longer white wing stripe and broader white tail band (Hudsonian has less white in its tail).


Breeds in northern Palearctic; winters to southern Africa, southern Asia and Australia.


Adult in winter plumage, subspecies melanuroides
Photo © by SeeToh
Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Singapore, 21 August 2016


There are 3 subspecies1:

  • L. l. islandica: Smaller, darker, with more extensive red on belly in Spring.
  • L. l. limosa: Larger, paler.
  • L. l. melanuroides: Similar to L. l. islandica, but decidedly smaller.


Breeds on temperate freshwater wetlands with open grassland.
Winters on estuaries, mudflats and sandy shores. Also freshwater margins.

Spring male in flight
Photo © by Joe52
Bournemouth, Hampshire, UK, 15 March 2016



Fast and energetic. Outline cross-like


The diet includes insects, worms, snails, insects, crustaceans, and parts of aquatic plants.


They nest on the ground, usually in short vegetation, laying 3-6 eggs.


Molting adult in flight
Photo © by targetman
Lincolnshire, UK, 3 September 2018

Flight Call: "wicka-wicka-wicka"

Listen in an external program


Bar-tailed Godwit left, Black-tailed Godwit right
Photo © by Andy Hall
Texel, Netherlands, 11 May 2019
  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 http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. BirdLife International. 2017. Limosa limosa (amended version of 2016 assessment). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T22693150A111611637. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2017-1.RLTS.T22693150A111611637.en. Downloaded on 04 October 2018.
  3. Brazil, M. (2009) Birds of East Asia. Princeton Univ. Press.
  4. Chandler, R. (2009). Shorebirds of North America, Europe, and Asia: A photographic guide. Princeton.
  5. Engelmoer, M. & Roselaar, C. S. (1998): Geographical Variation in Waders. Kluwer Academic Publishers. Dordrecht.
  6. Höglund, J., Johansson, T., Beintema, A. & Schekkerman, H. (2009) Phylogeography of the Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa: substructuring revealed by mtDNA control region sequences. J. Orn. 150(1): 45-53.
  7. Rasmussen & Anderton. 2012. Birds of South Asia: The Ripley Guide. Lynx Edicions
  8. Roselaar, C.S.; Gerritsen, Gerrit J. (1991). "Recognition of Icelandic Black-tailed Godwit and its occurrence in the Netherlands" (PDF). Dutch Birding. 13 (4): 128–135.
  9. Van Gils, J., Wiersma, P., Christie, D.A., Garcia, E.F.J. & Boesman, P. (2018). Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa). 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 https://www.hbw.com/node/53888 on 4 October 2018).
  10. Collins Pocket Guide to British Birds 1966
  11. Collins Field Guide 5th Edition

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