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Hudsonian Godwit Limosa haemastica


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Hudsonian Godwit
credit: Cl·udio Dias Timm/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Scolopacidae, Sandpipers view all from this family

Description ADULT SUMMER MALE Has beautifully patterned feathers on back, tertials, and upper wing coverts, with black centers and scalloped white and chestnut margins. Head and neck are streaked gray-brown and underparts are barred and flushed rich chestnut. ADULT SUMMER FEMALE Paler and less colorful overall, in particular with less chestnut on underparts. ADULT WINTER Has rather uniform gray-brown upperparts and paler gray-buff underparts. JUVENILE Similar to winter adult, but feathers on back and wing coverts have pale margins and darker subterminal marks creating a scaly appearance.

Dimensions Length: 15" (38 cm)

Habitat Nests on wet tundra and breeding range is extremely restricted, with two populations around Hudson Bay, and others west to Alaska. Long-distance migrant that winters in southern South America. On migration (May-Jun and Aug-Sep), stops off at estuaries and mudflats and other coastal wetland habitats.

Observation Tips Visit Churchill, Manitoba, in spring to see this species on its breeding grounds. Or search suitable coastal habitats during migration times.

Range Plains, Eastern Canada, Rocky Mountains, Great Lakes, Mid-Atlantic, New England, Western Canada, Southeast, Texas, Florida, Alaska

Voice Mostly silent.

Discussion Large and distinctive shorebird whose summer plumage is colorful and fabulously intricate. On breeding grounds, watchful territorial birds sometimes perch on stunted trees. The long bill is slightly upturned toward the tip and is distinctly bicolored, pink along much of its length, but with a dark tip. Bill is used to probe soft ground for invertebrates. Legs are dark in all birds. In flight, all birds show a striking tail pattern (white at base, black at tip), white wing stripes and, from below, bold and contrasting black underwing coverts. Sexes are usually separable in breeding season and female is larger than male.