The Black tailed Godwit is a wader with a long neck and bill, and long legs. It measures approximately 40 cm (16 in.) long. Breeding adults have a dark orange breast and neck, which is more intense in the male. The head is brown with faint stripes. The body is mottled light brown and the wings are brown with a wide white bar across them. The tail, as the bird’s name implies, is black on its edge and white near the rump. The bill in the adults is orange near the base during the breeding season, with a black tip. The legs are grey. Juveniles are mottled brown with duller orange breasts and necks.

The Latin name ‘Limosa’ refers to ‘muddy’, the habitat where this species forages. The English name ‘Godwit’ possible refers to the bird’s call.

Black-tailed godwits forage for insects, larvae, spiders and other arthropods, crustaceans, fish eggs and tadpoles. Its preferred habitat is wetlands, bogs and damp fields. This is a colonial bird that can be found in large flocks.

The black-tailed godwit’s breeding range covers Iceland, much of Europe and central Asia. This bird is a long-distance migrant for the winter, and can be found as far south as Indonesia and Australia for that season.

Conservation: the black-tailed godwit is listed as ‘near-threatened’ by the IUCN. This is because its population has declined rapidly in some of its overall range due to its habitat, wetlands, being drained for agriculture.

Black-tailed Godwit - Iceland - June 17, 2017 - photo by Roberta Palmer
Black-tailed Godwit – Iceland – June 17, 2017 – Roberta Palmer