Black-tailed Godwit
Limosa limosa

>> GENERAL >>>>>

– large wader, smaller than Eurasian Curlew
– nocturnal/diurnal migrant
– migrates singly or (more regularly) in small to medium-sized flocks
– sometimes mixed with other larger waders

>> VISUAL ID >>>>>


Black-tailed Godwit Limosa l. limosa, AD BREED
BIF3074, 02/06/2017, Ochsenmoor, Germany, Kai Bratke
– very long legs, in limosa the feet and a part of the tarsus protrude the tail
– in BREED breast, neck and head rusty brown, distincly paler than in islandica


Black-tailed Godwit Limosa l. limosa, AD BREED
BIF3075, 02/06/2017, Ochsenmoor, Germany, Kai Bratke
same as BIF3074
valid for all ssp.:
– very long, fairly straight bicoloured bill (usually less than half of the bill black tipped → Bar-tailed Godwit)
– underwing pure white with black leading and broad black trailing edge


Black-tailed Godwit Limosa l. limosa, AD BREED
BIF3076, 02/06/2017, Ochsenmoor, Germany, Kai Bratke
– the colour of the bill base ranges from orange to pale pink
– very contrasty upperwing with dark remiges and primary coverts and white wingbar


Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa islandica, AD BREED
BIF3014, 04/06/2019, Snæfellsness, Iceland, Patrick Franke
distinctly differentiated from BREED mainland WP ssp. limosa by:
– rich chestnut coloured on head, neck and breast
– on average shorter-bill
– shorter legs


Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa islandica, AD BREED
BIF3015, 01/06/2019, Myvatn, Iceland, Patrick Franke
– in islandica the barring of belly and flanks is usually more extend


Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa islandica, AD BREED
BIF3016, 01/06/2019, Myvatn, Iceland, Patrick Franke
– the back is more coarsely black and brown patterned than in BREED limosa


Black-tailed GodwitLimosa limosa islandica, AD BREED
BIF3017, 29/05/2019, Langanes, Iceland, Patrick Franke
– no white wedge on the lower back → Bar-tailed Godwit
– white tail with broad black terminal bar


Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa islandica, AD BREED possibly M and F
BIF3020, 29/05/2019, Langanes, Iceland, Patrick Franke
– F on average larger, longer-billed and often slightly paler overall than M
– caution, sexing in the field is often not reliable


Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa islandica, AD BREED possibly M and F
BIF3018, 29/05/2019, Langanes, Iceland, Patrick Franke
– in ssp. islandica only the feet protrude the tail (compare with ssp. limosa on BIF3075)


Black-tailed Godwit Limosa l. limosa
BIF3026, 29/06/2010, Kiskunság National Park, Hungary, Mathias Putze
– rather pale birds
– moult in limosa starts earlier than in islandica


Black-tailed Godwit Limosa l. limosa
BIF3028, 29/06/2010, Kiskunság National Park, Hungary, Mathias Putze
– at greater distance the black and white wing pattern is a giveaway


Black-tailed Godwit Limosa l. limosa
BIF3027, 11/02/2015, Ras Al Kabbah, Oman, Mathias Putze
– NBREED plain grey upperside, head and breast

>> ACOUSTIC ID >>>>>

– during migration usually single or series of short downslurs
monophonic with inharmonic partials
– squeaky, a bit toy-like timbre reminding of Bar-tailed Godwit due to similar inharmonic partials, but at a lower frequency band and different call structure
elements variable in length
– sometimes elements are linked, thus might appear as one broad modulated call in spectrograms


– detail –

Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa limosa, AD, call in flight
– overview –
BIF3063, 01/05/2011, Zhanybekshalkar, Kazakhstan, Patrick Franke


– detail –

Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa islandica, AD, call in flight
– overview –
BIF2997, 02/06/2019, Laugar, Iceland, Patrick Franke


– detail –

Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa islandica, AD, call in flight
– overview –
BIF3064, 17/06/2015, Snæfellsness, Iceland, Patrick Franke


– detail –

Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa islandica, AD, call in flight
– overview –
BIF3066, 17/06/2015, Snæfellsness, Iceland, Patrick Franke


Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa islandica, AD, call in flight
– overview –
BIF3065, 17/06/2015, Snæfellsness, Iceland, Patrick Franke

>> COMPARISON SPECIES >>>>>

Bar-tailed Godwit (v)(a)
Willet (v)

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