Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa)

Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa)

The Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa) is a large wading bird belonging to the family Scolopacidae. It is primarily found in wetland habitats across Europe and Asia, including countries such as the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, and China. The species is migratory, with most populations breeding in the temperate regions of Europe and western Asia, and wintering in southern Europe, Africa, and southern Asia. The Black-tailed Godwit inhabits a variety of wetland habitats, such as marshes, mudflats, estuaries, and flooded grasslands.

Physical Characteristics:

The Black-tailed Godwit measures around 40-42 centimeters (15.7-16.5 inches) in length, with a wingspan of approximately 70-80 centimeters (27.5-31.5 inches). It has a long, straight bill, long legs, and a relatively long neck. The bird’s plumage varies depending on the season. During the breeding season, the Black-tailed Godwit has a reddish-brown head, neck, and breast, while the back is brown with black and white markings. The tail is black with a white base. In non-breeding plumage, the bird has a grayish-brown coloration overall. Both males and females share similar coloration and markings, with little sexual dimorphism.


The Black-tailed Godwit primarily feeds on insects, worms, crustaceans, and other aquatic invertebrates. It may also consume small fish and plant matter. The bird forages by probing its long bill into the mud or shallow water to capture prey, often wading through wetlands and mudflats in search of food.

Reproduction and Lifecycle:

The breeding season for the Black-tailed Godwit typically occurs between April and July, depending on the location. These birds are monogamous and form long-lasting pair bonds. They build a simple nest on the ground, usually hidden in tall grass or other vegetation near water sources.

The female lays 3 to 4 olive-brown eggs with dark markings, which are incubated by both parents for around 21-22 days. After hatching, the chicks are precocial, meaning they are relatively mature and mobile shortly after birth. The chicks are fed and cared for by both parents until they fledge, or leave the nest, at about 25-30 days old. The young birds become fully independent within a few weeks of fledging.

Conservation Status:

The Black-tailed Godwit is currently listed as “Near Threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to a decline in its population. The species is facing several threats, including habitat loss and degradation due to wetland drainage, agricultural expansion, and urbanization, as well as disturbance at breeding and wintering sites, pollution, and climate change. Conservation efforts focus on habitat preservation and restoration, as well as monitoring and managing populations to ensure their long-term survival.

Updated: 20 April 2023 — 14:58

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