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Birds by name
Conservation status: Red
Black-tailed godwits are large wading birds. In summer, they have bright orangey-brown chests and bellies, but in winter they’re more greyish-brown. Their most distinctive features are their long beaks and legs, and the black and white stripes on their wings.
Female black-tailed godwits are bigger and heavier than the males, with a noticeably longer beak (which helps the sexes to avoid competing for food with each other).
They’re very similar to bar-tailed godwits, which breed in the Arctic. Black-taileds have longer legs, and bar-taileds don’t have striped wings. As the names suggest, the tail patterns are different, too.
Sandpipers and allies (Scolopacidae)
Estuaries and coastal lagoons are the best places to look for black-tailed godwits at almost any time of year, though they also visit wetland sites inland. We also have a small, vulnerable breeding population, on a select few wet meadows and marshes; they migrate to west Africa for winter. Birds from Iceland spend winter in the UK.
It’s easiest to see black-tailed godwits from late summer through winter.
Insects, worms and snails, but also some plants, beetles, grasshoppers and other small insects during the breeding season.
* UK breeding is the number of pairs breeding annually. UK wintering is the number of individuals present from October to March. UK passage is the number of individuals passing through on migration in spring and/or autumn.
Please note that the map is only intended as a guide. It shows general distribution rather than detailed, localised populations.
Patrik Åberg, Xeno-canto