The godwits are a group of large, long-billed, long-legged and strongly migratory waders of the bird genus Limosa. Their long bills allow them to probe deeply in the sand for aquatic worms and molluscs. They frequent tidal shorelines, breeding in northern climates in summer and migrating south in winter. In their winter range, they flock together where food is plentiful. A female bar-tailed godwit holds the record for the longest non-stop flight for a land bird.[2]

They can be distinguished from the curlews by their straight or slightly upturned bills, and from the dowitchers by their longer legs. The winter plumages are fairly drab, but three species have reddish underparts when breeding. The females are appreciably larger than the males.

Godwits were once a popular British dish. Sir Thomas Browne writing in about 1682 noted that godwits "were accounted the daintiest dish in England".[3]

Waders in flight Roebuck Bay
A flock of migratory waders, dominated by bar-tailed godwit
Temporal range: Barstovian-recent[1]
Aguja colinegra (Limosa limosa) (4876624616)
Black-tailed godwit
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Charadriiformes
Family: Scolopacidae
Subfamily: Tringinae
Genus: Limosa
Brisson, 1760
Type species
Scolopax limosa
Linnaeus, 1758

4, see text.


The genus Limosa was introduced by the French zoologist Mathurin Jacques Brisson in 1760 with the black-tailed godwit (Limosa limosa) as the type species.[4][5] The genus name Limosa is from Latin and means "muddy", from limus, "mud".[6] The English name was first recorded in about 1416–17 and is believed to imitate the bird's call.[3]

The genus contains four species:[7]

Fossil species

In addition, there are two or three species of fossil prehistoric godwits. Limosa vanrossemi is known from the Monterey Formation (Late Miocene, approx. 6 mya) of Lompoc, United States. Limosa lacrimosa is known from the Early Pliocene of Western Mongolia (Kurochkin, 1985). Limosa gypsorum of the Late Eocene (Montmartre Formation, some 35 mya) of France may have actually been a curlew or some bird ancestral to both curlews and godwits (and possibly other Scolopacidae), or even a rail, being placed in the monotypic genus Montirallus by some (Olson, 1985). Certainly, curlews and godwits are rather ancient and in some respects primitive lineages of scolopacids, further complicating the assignment of such possibly basal forms.[8]

In a 2001 study comparing the ratios cerebrum to brain volumes in various dinosaur species, Hans C. E. Larsson found that more derived dinosaurs generally had proportionally more voluminous cerebrum.[9] Limosa gypsorum, then regarded as a Numenius species, was a discrepancy in this general trend.[10] L. gypsorum was only 63% of the way between a typical reptilian ratio and that of modern birds.[10] However, this may be explainable if the endocast was distorted, as it had been previously depicted in the past by Deschaseaux, who is described by Larsson as calling the endocast "slightly anteroposteriorly sheared and laterally compressed."[10]


  1. ^ "Limosa Brisson 1760 (godwit)". PBDB.
  2. ^ Bird Completes Epic Flight Across The Pacific ScienceDaily.com
  3. ^ a b "Godwit". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  4. ^ Brisson, Mathurin Jacques (1760). Ornithologie, ou, Méthode Contenant la Division des Oiseaux en Ordres, Sections, Genres, Especes & leurs Variétés (in French and Latin). Paris: Jean-Baptiste Bauche. Vol. 1, p. 48, Vol. 5, p. 261.
  5. ^ Peters, James Lee, ed. (1934). Check-list of Birds of the World. Volume 2. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. p. 263.
  6. ^ Jobling, James A. (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. p. 227. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
  7. ^ Gill, Frank; Donsker, David, eds. (2019). "Buttonquail, plovers, seedsnipe, sandpipers". World Bird List Version 9.1. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  8. ^ Thomas, Gavin H.; Wills, Matthew A.; Székely, Tamás (2004). "A supertree approach to shorebird phylogeny". BMC Evol. Biol. 4: 28. doi:10.1186/1471-2148-4-28. PMC 515296. PMID 15329156.
  9. ^ "Allometric Comparison," in Larsson (2001). Pg. 27.
  10. ^ a b c "Allometric Comparison," in Larsson (2001). Pg. 30.


  • Larsson, H. C. E. 2001. Endocranial anatomy of Carcharodontosaurus saharicus (Theropoda: Allosauroidea) and its implications for theropod brain evolution. pp. 19–33. In: Mesozoic Vertebrate Life. Ed.s Tanke, D. H., Carpenter, K., Skrepnick, M. W. Indiana University Press.
  • Olson, Storrs L. (1985): Section X.D.2.b. Scolopacidae. In: Farner, D.S.; King, J.R. & Parkes, Kenneth C. (eds.): Avian Biology 8: 174-175. Academic Press, New York.
  • Gill, R. E. Jr; Piersma, T.; Hufford, G.; Servranckx, R.; Riegen, A. (2005). "Crossing the ultimate ecological barrier: evidence for an 11,000-km-long non-stop flight from Alaska to New Zealand and Eastern Australia by Bar-tailed Godwits". Condor. 107: 1–20. doi:10.1650/7613.
Akimiski Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary

The Akimiski Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary is a migratory bird sanctuary in Qikiqtaaluk, Nunavut, Canada. It is located on Akimiski Island within James Bay. The sanctuary, established by the Canadian government on 1 January 1941, has federal conservation status. Taking up the eastern two-thirds of the island, it is 3,367 km2 (1,300 sq mi) in overall size, including a 1,664 km2 (642 sq mi) marine area. It includes marine, intertidal, and subtidal components and is rated Category IV by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.The coastal waters and wetlands are important feeding grounds for several varieties of migratory waterfowl and shorebirds. These include Atlantic brant, Canada goose, Caspian tern, Hudsonian godwit, lesser snow goose, red knot, and semipalmated plover.Among mammalians, ringed seals, polar bears, and beluga whales can be found in the area.

Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge

Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge is a U.S. National Wildlife Refuge on Oregon's coast. It is one of six National Wildlife Refuges comprising the Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex and is renowned among bird watchers for being able to view rare shorebirds including ruff, Hudsonian godwit, and Mongolian plover.

The refuge was last expanded in 1999, it now has 889 acres (3.60 km2) in two units: Bandon Marsh and Ni-les'tun.

Bar-tailed godwit

The bar-tailed godwit (Limosa lapponica) is a large wader in the family Scolopacidae. The genus name Limosa is from Latin and means "muddy", from limus, "mud". The specific lapponica refers to Lapland. The English term "godwit" was first recorded in about 1416–7 and is believed to imitate the bird's call.The bar-tailed godwit breeds on Arctic coasts and tundra mainly in the Old World, and winters on coasts in temperate and tropical regions of the Old World and of Australia and New Zealand. Its migration includes the longest known non-stop flight of any bird and also the longest journey without pausing to feed by any animal.The global population is estimated to number 1,099,000–1,149,000 individuals.

Black-tailed godwit

The black-tailed godwit (Limosa limosa) is a large, long-legged, long-billed shorebird first described by Carl Linnaeus in 1758. It is a member of the godwit genus, Limosa. There are three subspecies, all with orange head, neck and chest in breeding plumage and dull grey-brown winter coloration, and distinctive black and white wingbar at all times.

Its breeding range stretches from Iceland through Europe and areas of central Asia. Black-tailed godwits spend (the northern hemisphere) winter in areas as diverse as the Indian Subcontinent, Australia, New Zealand, western Europe and west Africa. The species breeds in fens, lake edges, damp meadows, moorlands and bogs and uses estuaries, swamps and floods in (the northern hemisphere) winter; it is more likely to be found inland and on freshwater than the similar bar-tailed godwit. The world population is estimated to be 634,000 to 805,000 birds and is classified as Near Threatened. The black-tailed godwit is the national bird of the Netherlands

Blackwater Estuary

The Blackwater Estuary is the estuary of the River Blackwater between Maldon and West Mersea in Essex. It is a 5,538 hectare biological Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). An area of 4,395 hectares is also designated a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance, and a Special Protection Area 1,099 hectares is a National Nature Reserve. Tollesbury Wick and part of Abbotts Hall Farm, both nature reserve managed by the Essex Wildlife Trust, are in the SSSI.Oysters have been harvested from the estuary for more than a thousand years and there are remains of fish weirs from the Anglo-Saxon era. At the head of the estuary is the town of Maldon, which is a centre of salt production. The other major settlement is the town West Mersea, of Mersea Island, on the northern seaward side. Numerous other villages are on its banks.

Within the estuary is Northey Island which was the location for the first experiments in the UK in 'managed retreat', i.e. creating saltmarsh by setting sea walls back from what are perceived to be unsustainable positions. The area is notable as a breeding area for little tern (Sternula albifrons) and as a transit point for ringed plover (Charadrius hiaticula).

Over-wintering species

Pied avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)

Black-tailed godwit (Limosa limosa islandica)

Dark-bellied brent goose (Branta bernicla bernicla)

Dunlin (Calidris alpina alpina)

Eurasian golden plover (Pluvialis apricaria)

Grey plover (Pluvialis squatarola)

Hen harrier (Circus cyaneus)

Common redshank (Tringa totanus)

Ringed plover (Charadrius hiaticula)

Ruff (Philomachus pugnax)

Common shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)The Estuary is also the current mooring location for the Ross Revenge, the home of former pirate station Radio Caroline

Chkalov Island

Chkalov Island (Остров Чкалова; Ostrov Chkalova), formerly Udd Island (Остров Удд), is a coastal island in the southern end of the Sea of Okhotsk. It is located off Schastya Bay, between the shorebound lagoon and the sea. Baydukov Island lies only 2 km off its east-southeast tip.

Chkalov Island is long and narrow. It is 20.5 km long and has an average width of 1 km.

This island is a natural habitat for many birds, like the great knot, red-necked stint, dunlin, whimbrel, bar-tailed godwit and the common sandpiper. Beluga whales are common off its northern waters.

Administratively Chkalov Island belongs to the Khabarovsk Krai of the Russian Federation.

Dengie nature reserve

Dengie nature reserve is a 3,105 hectare biological and geological Site of Special Scientific Interest between the estuaries of the Blackwater and Crouch near Bradwell-on-Sea in Essex. It is also a National Nature Reserve, a Special Protection Area, a Nature Conservation Review site, a Geological Conservation Review site and a Ramsar site. It is part of the Essex estuaries Special Area of Conservation. An area of 12 hectares is the Bradwell Shell Bank nature reserve, which is managed by the Essex Wildlife Trust.It consists of large, remote area of tidal mud-flats and salt marshes at the eastern end of the Dengie peninsula . The Chapel of St Peter-on-the-Wall overlooks some of the site.

It is a wetland of international importance and provides habitats for:

Bar-tailed godwit (Limosa lapponica)

Hen harrier (Circus cyaneus)

Grey plover (Pluvialis squatarola)

knot (Calidris canutus)

Black-tailed godwit (Limosa limosa islandica)

Dunlin (Calidris alpina alpina)

Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)

Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus)

Dark-bellied brent goose (Branta bernicla bernicla)

Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)

Great crested grebe (Podiceps cristatus)

Dornoch Firth

The Dornoch Firth (Scottish Gaelic: Caolas Dhòrnaich, pronounced [ˈkɯːl̪ˠəs̪ ˈɣɔːrˠn̪ˠɪç]) is a firth on the east coast of Highland, in northern Scotland. It forms part of the boundary between Ross and Cromarty, to the south, and Sutherland, to the north. The firth is designated as a national scenic area, one of 40 such areas in Scotland. The national scenic area covers 15,782 ha in total, of which 4,240 ha is the marine area of the firth below low tide. A review of the national scenic areas by Scottish Natural Heritage in 2010 commented:

By comparison with other east coast firths the Dornoch Firth is narrow and sinuous, yet it

exhibits within its compass a surprising variety of landscapes. It is enclosed by abrupt rounded granitic hills clad in heather moor and scree, their Gaelic names of cnoc, meall and creag giving the clue to their character. Their lower slopes are frequently wooded, oakwoods being a noticeable feature of the area, but with other deciduous and coniferous species represented in plantations which vary from the policy plantings of Skibo Castle to the pines of the Struie Forest.

Together with Loch Fleet it is a designated as a Special Protection Area (SPA) for wildlife conservation purposes. Additionally, together with Morrich More, it has the designation of Special Area of Conservation (SAC).The total SPA hosts significant populations of the following birds:

Breeding season: osprey (Pandion haliaetus)

Overwintering: bar-tailed godwit (Limosa lapponica), greylag goose (Anser anser), wigeon (Anas penelope), curlew (Numenius arquata), dunlin (Calidris alpina alpina), oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus), and teal (Anas crecca).The SAC protects a variety of habitats, including salt meadows and coastal dune heathland and grassland. The site is of importance for otters (Lutra lutra) and harbour seals (Phoca vitulina)

Fauna of Estonia

Estonia is a small, heavily forested country situated on the Baltic Sea. It is a part

of Palearctic ecozone (being a transitional area between the Western Palearctic and European-Siberian regions) and temperate northern Atlantic marine ecoregion.Phytogeographically, Estonia is shared between the Central European and Eastern European provinces of the Circumboreal Region within the Boreal Kingdom. According to the WWF, the territory of Estonia belongs to the ecoregion of Sarmatic mixed forests.

Estonia's sparse population and large areas of forest have allowed stocks of European lynx, wild boar, brown bears, and moose to survive, among other animals. Estonia is thought to have a wolf population of around 200, which is considered slightly above the optimum range of 100 to 200. Estonian birdlife is characterized by rare seabirds like the Steller's eider (Polysticta stelleri), lesser white-fronted goose (Anser erythropus) and black-tailed godwit (Limosa limosa), wetland birds like the great snipe (Gallinago media), dry open country birds like the corn crake (Crex crex) and European roller (Coracias garrulus) and large birds of prey like the greater spotted eagle (Aquila clanga). Estonia has five national parks, including Lahemaa National Park on the northern coast as the largest. Soomaa National Park, between Pärnu and Viljandi, is known for its wetlands. Reserves such as Käina Bay Bird Reserve and Matsalu National Park (a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention) are also popular with locals and tourists and support a wide variety of birdlife.

Godwit Glacier

Godwit Glacier (77°36′S 162°13′E) is a glacier that flows northeast from Mount Holm-Hansen into Bartley Glacier in the Asgard Range of Victoria Land, Antarctica. It was named by the New Zealand Geographic Board (1998) after the godwit, a migratory bird which summers in New Zealand.

Godwit Press

Godwit Press is a major New Zealand publisher of non-fiction works, mainly of New Zealand arts, literature, and natural history. Initially founded in Auckland in 1989, the company was taken over by Random House New Zealand in 2000 and has since been its main non-fiction publishing arm in New Zealand.

Godwit Press (frequently simply referred to as Godwit) has won numerous New Zealand book awards, among them the following:

New Zealand Post Book Awards1999 Illustrative Arts Award winner and NZSA E.H. McCormick Best First Book Award for Non-Fiction - 100 New Zealand Craft Artists (Helen Schamroth)

2000 Lifestyle Award winner - The Gardener's Encyclopaedia of New Zealand Native Plants (Yvonne Cave & Valda Paddison)

2002 Poetry Award winner - Piggy-back Moon (Hone Tuwhare)

2002 Lifestyle & Contemporary Culture Award winner - The Art of Tivaevae: Traditional Cook Islands Quilting (Lynnsay Rongokea & John Dalley)

2003 Reference & Anthology Award winner - Spirit in a Strange Land: A Selection of New Zealand Spiritual Verse (eds. Paul Morris, Harry Ricketts & Mike Grimshaw)

2005 Montana Medal for Non-Fiction and History Award winner - At Home: A Century of New Zealand Design (Douglas Lloyd Jenkins)

2009 NZSA E.H. McCormick Best First Book Award for Non-Fiction - Mates & Lovers: A History of Gay New Zealand (Chris Brickell)

2014 Illustrated Non-fiction Award winner - Coast: A New Zealand journey (Bruce Ansley & Jane Ussher)

Hudsonian godwit

The Hudsonian godwit (Limosa haemastica) is a large shorebird in the sandpiper family, Scolopacidae. The genus name Limosa is from Latin and means "muddy", from limus, "mud". The specific haemastica is from Ancient Greek and means "bloody". An 18th century name for this bird was red-breasted godwit. The English term "godwit" was first recorded in about 1416–7 and is believed to imitate the bird's call.

Lake Karataş

Lake Karataş (Turkish: Karataş Gölü), also known as Lake Bahçeözü, is a fresh water lake in Burdur Province, Turkey.The lake is situated in Karamanlı ilçe (district) of Burdur Province at 37°23′N 29°58′E. It is a shallow lake with a surface area of. 1,190 ha (2,900 acres). Its north to south dimension is 7 km (4.3 mi). It is a part of the closed basin known as Göller Yöresi ("Turkish Lakes Region") . Its distance to Karamanlı is 16 km (9.9 mi) and to Burdur is 46 km (29 mi). Its elevation with respect to sea level is 1,050 m (3,440 ft).

The main bird species of the lake are Eurasian wigeon, grey heron, white heron, pochard, teal, and black-tailed godwit.

Marbled godwit

The marbled godwit (Limosa fedoa) is a large shorebird. On average, it is the largest of the 4 species of godwit. The total length is 40–50 cm (16–20 in), including a large bill of 8–13 cm (3.1–5.1 in), and wingspan is 70–88 cm (28–35 in). Body mass can vary from 240 to 510 g (8.5 to 18.0 oz).Adults have long blue-grey hairy legs and a very long pink bill with a slight upward curve and dark at the tip. The long neck, breast and belly are pale brown with dark bars on the breast and flanks. The back is mottled and dark. They show cinnamon wing linings in flight.

Their breeding habitat is the northern prairies of western Canada-(Canadian Prairies), and the north central Great Plains, United States near marshes or ponds. They nest on the ground, usually in short grass.

In autumn, they migrate in flocks to the coasts of California, the Gulf of Mexico, Mexico and South America.

These birds forage by probing on mudflats, in marshes, or at the beach (see picture below). When the tide is out, they eat. In short grass, they may pick up insects by sight. They mainly eat insects and crustaceans, but also eat parts of aquatic plants.

When the tide is in, they roost. They often sleep by standing on one leg and tucking their bill into their body (see picture below).Their numbers were reduced by hunting at the end of the 19th century. Although they had recovered somewhat since that time, their population has declined in recent times as suitable habitat is used for farming.

Nätsi-Võlla Nature Reserve

Nätsi-Võlla Nature Reserve is a nature reserve situated in western Estonia, in Pärnu County, made up of several bogs that together form the largest bog area in Pärnu County.

It is an internationally important bird area, with species such as golden eagle, merlin and ruff. The bogs are rich in cloudberries and cranberries. The bogs of Nätsi-Võlla host numerous migratory species, such as the tundra swan (Cygnus columbianus). It also sees an annual congregation of numerous wader species. The bogs are also home to a significant percentage of the total national breeding population of such species as common crane (Grus grus) and black-tailed godwit (Limosa limosa). Other birds found here are whooper swan (Cygnus cygnus), Montagu's harrier (Circus pygargus), Eurasian golden plover (Pluvialis apricaria) and Eurasian eagle-owl (Bubo bubo)


Piiukaarelaid (alternatively: Piiukaare laid and Piiulaid) is a small, uninhabited islet in the Baltic Sea belonging to the country of Estonia. Piiukaarelaid has an approximate area of 8.5 hectares and a circumference of 1.8 kilometers and is administered by the village of Mereäärse, Varbla Parish, Pärnu County. The islet is fully protected as part of the Varbla Islets Landscape reserve (Estonian: Varbla laidude maastikukaitseala), and is an important breeding site for 54 species of birds, including: the velvet scoter, the little tern, the red-backed shrike, the curlew, the common tern, the Arctic tern, the redshank, the northern shoveler, the gadwall, the black-tailed godwit, the Greylag goose the tufted duck, the mute swan, the common gull, the goosander, the common eider, the lapwing, and others.

Stour Estuary

Stour Estuary is a 2,523 hectare biological and geological Site of Special Scientific Interest which stretches from Manningtree to Harwich in Essex and Suffolk. It is also an internationally important wetland Ramsar site, a Special Protection Area and a Nature Conservation Review site. It is part of the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and there are Geological Conservation Review sites in Wrabness, Stutton, and Harwich Part of the site is managed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, and a small area is Wrabness Nature Reserve, a Local Nature Reserve managed by the Essex Wildlife Trust.The estuary is nationally important for thirteen species of wintering wildfowl and three on autumn passage, for coastal saltmarsh, sheltered muddy shores, two scarce marine invertebrates, scarce plants and three geological sites. Birds include redshank, black-tailed godwit and dunlin, and there are nationally important sponges, ascidians and red algae. Harwich has thirty ash layers dating to the Eocene Harwich Formation and the succeeding London Clay. Wrabness has the most complete succession of ashes showing the importance of volcanism in southern England in the early Eocene. Stutton has fossils dating to the mid-Pleistocene, including extinct mammals such as straight-tusked elephants, mammoths and giant deer.

Uppu Aru Lagoon

Uppu Aru lagoon is a lagoon in Jaffna District, northern Sri Lanka. The lagoon separates the Valikamam region from the Thenmarachchi region.

The lagoon is linked to Jaffna Lagoon by a short channel to the south. The lagoon's water is brackish.

The lagoon is surrounded by a densely populated region containing palmyra palms, coconut plantations, grassland, rice paddies and extensive vegetable gardens.

The lagoon has extensive mudflats and salt marshes. It is surrounded by mangroves, particularly Avicennia. The lagoon attracts a wide variety of water birds including American flamingoes, ducks, garganey, black-tailed godwit and other shorebirds.


Uuemaarahu is a small, Baltic Sea islet comprising 0.0234 hectares belonging to the country of Estonia.

Uuemaarahu lies 1 kilometer to the southeast of the island of Hellamaa in the Väinameri Strait. It belongs to the administrative municipality of Pühalepa Parish, Hiiu County (Estonian: Hiiu maakond) and is part of the Hiiumaa Islet Landscape Reserve. Other islands nearby include Uuemererahu, Kadakalaid, Ramsi, Hõralaid and Vohilaid.

The islet is an important moulting area for an abundant variety of birds such as: the mute swan, the great black-backed gull, the common gull, the oystercatcher, the Arctic tern, the common eider, the greylag goose, the common goldeneye, the mallard, the goosander, the ruff, the black-tailed godwit, and the barnacle goose.


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