Male Black-Tailed Godwit

Black-Tailed Godwit

Scientific name: Limosa limosa

Did you know: The distinctive black and white striped wings of the Black-Tailed Godwit make it easy to identify in flight, even from a distance.

What Do Black-Tailed Godwits Look Like? (how to identify them)

The Black-Tailed Godwit is a striking medium-sized wading bird with distinctive features that make it easy to recognise. In breeding plumage, these elegant birds have a reddish-brown head, neck, and breast, contrasting with a white belly.

Their most notable feature is the bold black and white stripes on their wings, visible both in flight and when perched. The wings are pale brown with black wingtips, and a prominent white stripe along the upper wing.

Differences Between Male And Female Black-Tailed Godwits

While similar in appearance, there are subtle differences between the sexes. The male’s head and neck take on a brighter, more vibrant red hue during breeding season. The female, on the other hand, has a distinctive white forehead and crown. 

Additionally, females are slightly larger and heavier than males, with a noticeably longer beak – an adaptation that helps them avoid competing for the same food sources.

What Do Black-Tailed Godwits Eat?

These long-legged shorebirds have a diverse diet, primarily consisting of insects, worms, snails, and other small invertebrates. During the breeding season, they may also consume plants, beetles, grasshoppers, and other small insects. 

Their long, slightly upturned bills are perfectly adapted for probing deep into mud and sand to extract their prey from wetlands and marshes.

Where Do Black-Tailed Godwits Live? (inc. migration info)

The Black-Tailed Godwit has a wide breeding range, stretching from Iceland through Europe and into central Asia. During the non-breeding season (northern hemisphere winter), these birds migrate to various regions, including the Indian subcontinent, Australia, New Zealand, western Europe, and west Africa.

In the UK, Black-Tailed Godwits are rare breeding birds, with their primary breeding grounds found in wet grasslands of East Anglia, Kent, and North West England. During migration and winter, they can be spotted in good numbers on coastal estuaries and marshes, as well as at inland wetlands and shallow waters throughout the country.

Bird Calls & Songs (the unique voices of Black-Tailed Godwits)

The Black-Tailed Godwit is known for its distinctive and easily recognisable call, a long, drawn-out, and melodic “gleep” sound. This call is often heard during the breeding season and helps to identify the presence of these birds, even when they are not in sight.

Fun Black-Tailed Godwit Facts (kid friendly)

  • The Black-Tailed Godwit is the national bird of the Netherlands.
  • These birds form monogamous pairs that last for years, with faithful couples arriving at their breeding grounds within just a few days of each other each spring.
  • Black-Tailed Godwits have an average lifespan of 18 years in the wild.
  • Their long legs allow them to wade into deeper water when feeding.
  • The UK’s breeding Black-Tailed Godwits winter in Africa, while those that spend the winter on the south coast of the UK nest in Iceland.
  • Despite their impressive 70-82 cm wingspan, Black-Tailed Godwits only weigh between 275-345g.

Black-Tailed Godwit Video

Facts About The Black-Tailed Godwit

Diet: They eat insects, worms, snails, plants and beetles
Bird Family: Sandpipers, snipes and phalaropes
Length: 39 - 44cm
Wingspan: 70 - 83 cm
Weight: 275 - 345g
Scientific Name: Limosa limosa

The Black-Tailed Godwit Can Be Seen In The UK During The Following Months

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

Black-Tailed Godwit Images

Male Black-Tailed Godwit Male
Female Black-Tailed Godwit Female
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Hatchling
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Nestling
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Chick
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Fledgling
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Juvenile