Photo: Arthur Morris/Vireo

Marbled Godwit

Limosa fedoa

This big cinnamon-colored sandpiper inhabits the northern Great Plains in summer. When it leaves the prairies, the Marbled Godwit goes to coastal regions and becomes quite gregarious. Large flocks roost together in the salt meadows at high tide, or stand together in shallow water above the flats, probing deeply in the mud with their long bills.
Conservation status Numbers were reduced by market hunting during 19th century; some recovery since, but now declining again as more of its nesting habitat is converted to farmland.
Family Sandpipers
Habitat Prairies, pools, shores, tideflats. Breeds mostly on northern Great Plains, in areas of native prairie with marshes or ponds nearby. Localized populations also nest on tundra at James Bay, Ontario, and on Alaska Peninsula. In migration and winter around tidal mudflats, marshes, ponds, mainly in coastal regions.
This big cinnamon-colored sandpiper inhabits the northern Great Plains in summer. When it leaves the prairies, the Marbled Godwit goes to coastal regions and becomes quite gregarious. Large flocks roost together in the salt meadows at high tide, or stand together in shallow water above the flats, probing deeply in the mud with their long bills.
Photo Gallery
  • adult, breeding
  • adult, breeding
  • adult, breeding
  • adult, nonbreeding
  • adult, breeding
Feeding Behavior

On mudflats and in marshes, forages mostly by probing in water or mud with long bill. Often wades and probes so deeply that head is underwater. Finds most food by touch; may feed by day or night. On prairies, also picks up insects from surface of ground or plants.


Eggs

4, rarely 3-5. Greenish to olive-buff, lightly spotted with brown. Incubation is probably by both parents, 21-23 days. Incubating bird may sit motionless even when approached closely. Young: Downy young leave nest soon after hatching. Both parents tend young, but young find all their own food. Age of young at first flight roughly 3 weeks.


Young

Downy young leave nest soon after hatching. Both parents tend young, but young find all their own food. Age of young at first flight roughly 3 weeks.

Diet

Includes insects, mollusks, crustaceans. In summer on prairies, feeds mostly on insects, including many grasshoppers; also roots and seeds of various aquatic plants, such as sedges and pondweeds. On coast, feeds on mollusks, marine worms, crustaceans, other invertebrates.


Nesting

May nest in loose colonies. Male displays over breeding territory by flying over area, calling loudly. On ground, members of pair may go through ritualized nest-scrape making display. Nest site is on ground, usually in short grass on dry spot fairly close to water (sometimes far from water). Nest is slight depression, lined with dry grass. Occasionally has slight canopy of grass arranged above nest.

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

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

Migration

Migrates in flocks. Most birds move to coastal regions in winter. Some reach South America, but most winter north of Panama. A few birds (possibly one-year-olds) remain on winter range throughout the summer.

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Migration

Migrates in flocks. Most birds move to coastal regions in winter. Some reach South America, but most winter north of Panama. A few birds (possibly one-year-olds) remain on winter range throughout the summer.

  • 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, usually heard on breeding grounds.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
Learn more about this sound collection.

How climate change could affect this bird's range

In the broadest and most detailed study of its kind, Audubon scientists have used hundreds of thousands of citizen-science observations and sophisticated climate models to predict how birds in the U.S. and Canada will react to climate change.

Learn more

Read more: climate.audubon.org
Sandpipers Sandpiper-like Birds

Marbled Godwit

The darker the color, the more favorable the climate conditions are for survival. The outlined areas represent approximate current range for each season.

More on reading these maps.

Each map is a visual guide to where a particular bird species may find the climate conditions it needs to survive in the future. We call this the bird’s “climatic range.”

The colors indicate the season in which the bird may find suitable conditions— blue for winter, yellow for summer (breeding), and green for where they overlap (indicating their presence year-round).

The darker the shaded area, the more likely it is the bird species will find suitable climate conditions to survive there.

The outline of the approximate current range for each season remains fixed in each frame, allowing you to compare how the range will expand, contract, or shift in the future.

The first frame of the animation shows where the bird can find a suitable climate today (based on data from 2000). The next three frames predict where this bird’s suitable climate may shift in the future—one frame each for 2020, 2050, and 2080.

You can play or pause the animation with the orange button in the lower left, or select an individual frame to study by clicking on its year.

The darker the color, the more favorable the climate conditions are for survival. The outlined areas represent approximate current range for each season. More on reading these maps.
Winter
Summer

Winter Range
Summer Range
Both Seasons
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