Hudsonian GodwitLimosa haemastica
- ORDER: Charadriiformes
- FAMILY: Scolopacidae
Hudsonian Godwits are graceful shorebirds with long, slightly upturned bills, long legs, and a glorious breeding plumage of gold, brown, and brick red. They wade through arctic bogs and tidal mudflats, using their long bills to reach deep into the mud for invertebrate prey. They change to a subtle gray-brown nonbreeding plumage, and then undertake an incredible migration—nearly 10,000 miles to near the tip of South America. The passage involves flights of thousands of miles without a stop, some of it over open ocean.More ID Info
Find This Bird
In North America, look for Hudsonian Godwits during spring migration. Much of their fall migration is over open ocean. In spring they may turn up in many sorts of muddy wetland habitats, and they are more likely in the center of the continent than on the Atlantic or Pacific Coasts. The Upper Texas Coast is a good place to look for them in spring, especially in flooded rice fields full of shorebirds. Spring flocks numbering in the dozens or hundreds also appear in Kansas, the Dakotas, and Saskatchewan.
- Aguja Café (Spanish)
- Barge hudsonienne (French)
- Cool Facts
- Although the Hudsonian Godwit’s extra-long bill looks solid and stiff, the tip is actually quite flexible. This allows godwits to bend their bill tip to grasp prey hiding deep in thick mud.
- The name Hudsonian Godwit refers to Hudson Bay and the part of northern Canada explored by Henry Hudson, an English seafarer of the early 1600s. Hudsonian Godwits have one breeding population on the southern edge of Hudson Bay, and other populations stop off there to prepare for migration.
- Newly hatched Hudsonian Godwit chicks can swim across pools and slow-flowing streams.
- After breeding, the Hudsonian Godwit undertakes a migration from the subarctic to southern South America, in which it apparently makes nonstop flights of several thousand miles.
- Because of their far-northern breeding grounds and swift migratory passage through North America, Hudsonian Godwits were thought to be extremely rare until the 1940s. After World War II, researchers began finding large flocks in northern Canada in early autumn—birds staging for their long migration to wintering grounds in South America. This led to the discovery of their wintering grounds.
- The Hudsonian Godwit has had many folk names, including “ring-tailed marlin,” a reference to the bird’s tail band and to its long bill (like the “bill” of a marlin fish), and “goose-bird,” a reference to its large size for a shorebird.
- The oldest recorded Hudsonian Godwit was a male, and at least 6 years, 1 month old when he was shot in Ontario in 2013. He had been banded in Manitoba in 2008.