Bar-tailed Godwit

Limosa lapponica




Sandpipers, Phalaropes (Scolopacidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

Olive or pale brown with brown spots.

Number of Eggs:

2 - 4

Incubation Days:

20 - 21

Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Location:

On ground.

Nest Material:

Lined with vegetation or unlined.





Bar-tailed Godwit: Large shorebird with long, upcurved bill, scaled, brown, black and gray mottled upperparts and plain, pale red-brown underparts. Tail is white with distinctive dark bars. Female is larger and has a longer bill and duller plumage. Winter adult is gray overall and lacks red tones. Juvenile is intermediate between breeding and winter adult. Neck and breast are buff with scattered streaks; upperparts dark, with bright buff fringes; belly is white; bill is darker; rump and uppertail coverts white in nominate, but heavily barred brown.

Range and Habitat

Bar-tailed Godwit: Two subspecies occur in North America: 1) Baueri breeds in Alaska and migrates along Pacific coast; 2) European lapponica is a rare migrant along Atlantic coast; breeds on lowland tundra, but sometimes in upland areas with trees. On passage and in winter usually found on coasts, particularly in estuaries and sheltered sandy shores.

Breeding and Nesting

Bar-tailed Godwit: Males perform elaborate courtship and territorial displays, in which they call loudly and circle high above the tundra in flight. Two to four brown-spotted olive or pale brown eggs are laid in a shallow cup in ground moss, sometimes lined with vegetation. Incubation ranges from 20 to 21 days, and is carried out by both parents.

Foraging and Feeding

Bar-tailed Godwit: Their diet varies seasonally. They consume invertebrates, especially marine mollusks, crustaceans and worms when not breeding, and insects, spiders and berries when breeding. They forage in shallows or over exposed flats, probing by jabbing their long bill rapidly into the mud. They drink fresh and brackish water by dipping their bill in water and tipping the head up slightly.


Bar-tailed Godwit: Calls include a rapid "tititi" and a sharp "kuwit" alarm.

Similar Species

Bar-tailed Godwit: Black-tailed Godwit has barred underparts and rufous is limited to the head and neck. All curlews in range have downward curving bills.


Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.

Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
The ventral part of the bird, or the area between the flanks on each side and the crissum and breast. Flight muscles are located between the belly and the breast.
The upper front part of a bird.
The area between the uppertail coverts and the back of the bird.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X