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A photo of a Marbled Godwit (Limosa fedoa)
Marbled Godwit

Marbled Godwit

Limosa fedoa

The Marbled Godwit (Limosa fedoa) is a large, stately shorebird, recognized as the largest of the four godwit species. It is adorned with long blue-grey legs and a robust, lengthy pink bill that gently curves upwards, darkening at the tip. The adult's plumage is a tapestry of pale brown, with dark bars decorating the breast and flanks, while the back is mottled and dark. In flight, one can glimpse the cinnamon hues of its wing linings.

Identification Tips

To identify the Marbled Godwit, look for its impressive size, with a body length ranging from 40 to 50 cm and a wingspan stretching 70 to 88 cm. The bill is a distinctive feature, measuring 8 to 13 cm, and is useful for foraging in mudflats and marshes. Males typically weigh around 326 g, while females are slightly heavier at 391 g. The species exhibits sexual dimorphism, with females generally larger than males.

Habitat

Marbled Godwits favor open landscapes for breeding, often selecting short grass prairies and fields. During migration and winter, they frequent coastal mudflats, estuaries, and beaches, where they can be seen probing the soft substrates for food.

Distribution

This migratory bird breeds in central and south-central Canada, the north-central United States, and a disjunct population in James Bay. It winters along the southern United States to northwest South America, with significant numbers along the Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf coasts of the US and Mexico.

Behaviour

Marbled Godwits are known for their migratory prowess, with distinct populations following unique routes across the continent. They are social birds, often seen foraging in flocks. During high tide, they roost, sometimes standing on one leg and tucking their bill into their body for warmth and rest.

Breeding

Breeding takes place on the ground, with these birds preferring to nest in areas with short grass, which provides some concealment for their eggs and young.

Diet and Feeding

The Marbled Godwit's diet consists mainly of insects and crustaceans, supplemented by parts of aquatic plants. They forage by probing with their long bills in mudflats and marshes during low tide and may pick up insects by sight in short grass.

Conservation Status

The Marbled Godwit is currently listed as Least Concern by the IUCN. However, their populations have experienced historical declines due to hunting and more recent pressures from habitat loss due to agricultural expansion.

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Marbled Godwit Fun Facts

Did you know?
Marbled Godwits feed almost exclusively on plant tubers during migration.

Marbled Godwits on Birda

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