Living Bird Magazine
Marbled GodwitLimosa fedoa
- ORDER: Charadriiformes
- FAMILY: Scolopacidae
Shorebirds have some of the most interesting bill shapes and the Marbled Godwit is no exception with its swordlike bill. It plunges its two-toned, long, and slightly upturned bill deep into sand and mud to pull out aquatic invertebrates and plant tubers. This graceful shorebird is speckled in browns with a cinnamon wash that is especially noticeable when it spreads its long and pointed wings to take flight. It breeds in the northern prairies and spends the winters along the coasts.More ID Info
Find This Bird
Marbled Godwits might be easiest to find on the wintering grounds, where they congregate along shorelines and estuaries along the coast. They forage in shallow waters, sometimes just getting their feet wet and other times standing in water up to their bellies. Their large size, very long, upturned bill, and cinnamon plumage help them stand out from other shorebirds. In flight look for their cinnamon wings and feet that extend beyond the tail, unlike Whimbrels whose feet do not extend beyond the tail.
- Aguja Canela (Spanish)
- Barge marbrée (French)
- Cool Facts
- Most Marbled Godwits breed in the northern Great Plains, but there are two far-flung exceptions. One small population breeds along the southwest coast of James Bay, Ontario, Canada. Another small group breeds on the Alaska Peninsula. The Alaskan birds have shorter wings and are heavier than those breeding in the Great Plains.
- Unlike most shorebirds that eat aquatic invertebrates year-round, Marbled Godwits forage almost exclusively on plant tubers during migration, using their upturned bill to clip tubers.
- The oldest known Marbled Godwit was at least 13 years, 4 months old when it was found in California, the same state where it had been banded.