Photo: Glenn Bartley/Vireo

Priority Bird

Hudsonian Godwit

Limosa haemastica

Once thought to be very rare, even endangered, this big sandpiper was probably just overlooked on its long migration between the Arctic and southern South America. In spring it moves north across the Great Plains, pausing at marshes and flooded fields more often than at the mudflats thronged by other shorebirds. In fall, most fly nonstop from James Bay, Canada, to South America. Some stop in fall on our Atlantic Coast, especially when driven there by northeasterly winds.
Conservation status Numbers were seriously depleted in late 19th century by unrestricted shooting. Current population not large but probably stable.
Family Sandpipers
Habitat Marshes, prairie pools, mudflats; edge of tundra in summer. Spring migrants are usually on shallow marshy lakes, flooded pastures, rice fields, mudflats around ponds. Fall migrants on Atlantic Coast may be on marshy ponds or tidal flats. Nesting habitat in far north is near treeline, where patches of tundra, open woods, and ponds are mixed.
Once thought to be very rare, even endangered, this big sandpiper was probably just overlooked on its long migration between the Arctic and southern South America. In spring it moves north across the Great Plains, pausing at marshes and flooded fields more often than at the mudflats thronged by other shorebirds. In fall, most fly nonstop from James Bay, Canada, to South America. Some stop in fall on our Atlantic Coast, especially when driven there by northeasterly winds.
Hudsonian Godwit around Connecticut

Audubon Connecticut’s priority bird species are birds of significant conservation need, for which our actions, over time, can lead to measurable improvements in status.  Some of these species are listed as vulnerable or near threatened on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Redlist.  Others are species of conservation concern on the National Audubon Society’s Watchlist or identified as priorities by Partners in Flight.  Many priority species are also listed as endangered, threatened, or of special concern  in Connecticut and are included in Connecticut’s Wildlife Action Plan. The breadth of this list reflects the dramatic loss of habitat and the pervasive threats that confront birds and other wildlife.

Photo Gallery
  • adult male, breeding
  • adult female, breeding
  • juvenile
  • adult, non-breeding
  • adult male, breeding
  • adult male, breeding
  • juvenile
  • adult male and female, breeding
Feeding Behavior

Forages mostly by walking in shallow water, probing with bill in mud of bottom. Often wades so deeply that head is underwater part of the time.


Eggs

4, rarely 3. Dark olive-brown, with rather obscure brown blotches. Incubation is by both sexes, about 22-25 days. Young: Downy young leave nest soon after hatching. Young find all their own food, but are tended by both parents. Adults are very aggressive in defense of young. Young are able to fly at about 30 days.


Young

Downy young leave nest soon after hatching. Young find all their own food, but are tended by both parents. Adults are very aggressive in defense of young. Young are able to fly at about 30 days.

Diet

Insects, mollusks, crustaceans, marine worms. Diet not well known. On breeding grounds, may feed mostly on insects, including many flies and their larvae. During migration, may feed on marine worms, mollusks, and crustaceans on coast, mostly insects inland.


Nesting

In display over nesting territory, male flies high, calling; at peak of display, he glides with wings in shallow "V" while calling intensely for up to a minute or more, then dives toward ground. Male often perches on treetop; in courtship, pursues female in flight. Nest site is on ground in sedge marsh, usually on top of hummock under prostrate dwarf shrub, sometimes in tussock of grass. Very well concealed, extremely hard to find. Nest is shallow depression in vegetation, with sparse lining of leaves.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
Learn more about these drawings.

Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Migration

Migrates north mostly through Great Plains. Southward migration mostly off Atlantic Coast, most apparently flying nonstop from James Bay, Ontario, to northern South America. Adults migrate south earlier than juveniles in fall.

Download Our Bird Guide App

Migration

Migrates north mostly through Great Plains. Southward migration mostly off Atlantic Coast, most apparently flying nonstop from James Bay, Ontario, to northern South America. Adults migrate south earlier than juveniles in fall.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
A loud kerreck or god-wit call, similar to call of Marbled Godwit but higher pitched. Usually silent.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
Learn more about this sound collection.

Explore Similar Birds