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A photo of a Hudsonian Godwit (Limosa haemastica)
Hudsonian Godwit

Hudsonian Godwit

Limosa haemastica

The Hudsonian godwit, Limosa haemastica, presents itself as a large shorebird, a member of the sandpiper family Scolopacidae. Its genus name, derived from the Latin 'limus', meaning 'mud', hints at its habitat preferences, while its specific name 'haemastica', from Ancient Greek, translates to 'bloody', possibly alluding to its rich chestnut underparts. Historically, it was known as the red-breasted godwit in the 18th century, and the term "godwit" is thought to mimic the bird's call, first documented in the early 15th century.

Identification Tips

Adult Hudsonian godwits boast long, dark legs and a distinctive long, pink bill with a subtle upward curve and a darker tip. Their upper parts are mottled brown, while the underparts are a striking chestnut. In flight, one can observe their black tail and white rump, as well as black wing linings. Their legs and feet are a bluish-grey hue.

Habitat

These birds are found in the far north near the tree line in northwestern Canada and Alaska, as well as along the shores of Hudson Bay, where they breed in well-concealed, marshy areas.

Distribution

The Hudsonian godwit is a migratory bird, traveling to South America and the Caribbean. They are known to congregate at James Bay before their fall migration and are considered vagrants to Europe, Australia, and South Africa. During migration, they are often observed on the east coast of North America, particularly from late July through early August.

Behaviour

The Hudsonian godwit is a long-distance migrant, capable of making extensive journeys without stopping in favorable weather conditions. They are known to forage by probing in shallow waters.

Breeding

In their breeding habitat, these godwits nest on the ground, selecting a concealed spot within a marsh. The female typically lays a clutch of 4 olive-buff eggs, adorned with darker splotches. Both parents are involved in caring for the young, which are precocial and can fly within a month of hatching after a 22-day incubation period.

Diet and Feeding

Their diet primarily consists of insects and crustaceans, which they seek out by probing in shallow waters.

Conservation status

The Hudsonian godwit is currently listed as Least Concern by the IUCN. However, their populations were historically impacted by hunting at the end of the 19th century.

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Hudsonian Godwit Fun Facts

Did you know?
Hudsonian Godwits migrate 6000 miles non-stop; reaching speeds of 50 mph.

Hudsonian Godwits on Birda

Sightings

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