Hudsonian godwit

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Hudsonian godwit
Limosa haemastica - Kogarah Bay.jpg
A non-breeding vagrant at Kogarah Bay, Australia
Hudsonian Godwit - Churchill - Canada 01 (15657156459).jpg
Male in breeding plumage, Churchill, Canada
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Charadriiformes
Family: Scolopacidae
Genus: Limosa
L. haemastica
Binomial name
Limosa haemastica
Limosa haemastica map.svg
  • Scolopax haemastica Linnaeus, 1758

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.[2] The English term "godwit" was first recorded in about 1416–7 and is believed to imitate the bird's call.[3]


Adults have long dark legs and a long pink bill with a slight upward curve and dark at the tip. The upper parts are mottled brown and the underparts are chestnut. The tail is black and the rump is white. They show black wing linings in flight. The legs and feet are bluish-grey.[4]

Standard Measurements[4][5]
length 14.5–16.7 in (370–420 mm)
weight 300 g (11 oz)
wingspan 29 in (740 mm)
wing 195.5–208.5 mm (7.70–8.21 in)
tail 70–83.8 mm (2.76–3.30 in)
culmen 68.2–81.2 mm (2.69–3.20 in)
tarsus 53.5–59.5 mm (2.11–2.34 in)


Their breeding habitat is the far north near the tree line in northwestern Canada and Alaska, also on the shores of Hudson Bay. They nest on the ground, in a well-concealed location in a marshy area. The female usually lays 4 olive-buff eggs marked with darker splotches. Incubation period is 22 days.[4] Both parents look after the young birds, who find their own food and are able to fly within a month of hatching.


They migrate to South America and the Caribbean. These birds gather at James Bay before fall migration. In good weather, many birds make the trip south without stopping. They are vagrants to Europe, Australia, and South Africa.

They can perhaps be most easily seen in migration on the east coast of North America where they can be plentiful in migration in late July through early August.


These birds forage by probing in shallow water. They mainly eat insects and crustaceans.

Conservation history[edit]

Their numbers were reduced by hunting at the end of the 19th century.


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2016). "Limosa haemastica". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016: e.T22693154A93386036. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22693154A93386036.en. Retrieved 19 November 2021.
  2. ^ Jobling, James A (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. pp. 184, 227. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
  3. ^ "Godwit". Oxford English Dictionary (Online ed.). Oxford University Press. (Subscription or participating institution membership required.)
  4. ^ a b c Godfrey, W. Earl (1966). The Birds of Canada. Ottawa: National Museum of Canada. p. 163.
  5. ^ Sibley, David Allen (2000). The Sibley Guide to Birds. New York: Knopf. p. 177. ISBN 0-679-45122-6.

External links[edit]