Black-tailed Godwit

In the serene wetlands of Europe and Asia, a striking bird roams with an air of grace and elegance. Its long, slender legs gracefully wade through shallow waters as its black-tipped, russet-brown feathers shimmer in the sunlight. This is the Black-tailed Godwit, a symbol of beauty and resilience in the avian world. With its distinctive long bill and piercing amber eyes, it exudes a quiet confidence as it forages for food, heedless of the world around it. In its presence, one cannot help but feel a sense of wonder and admiration for this magnificent creature. Indeed, the Black-tailed Godwit is a true testament to the power and wonder of nature.

Bird CharacteristicDescription
Common NameBlack-tailed Godwit
Scientific NameLimosa limosa
Colour (s)Grey, brown, black, and white
Average Length37-44 cm
Average Height32-40 cm
Weight250-500 g
Type of BirdWetlands
Origin country (ies)Eurasia
Month it comes to IndiaAugust to April
Location in IndiaCoastal wetlands
IUCN statusNear Threatened


The Black-tailed Godwit is a wading bird that belongs to the family Scolopacidae. It is a medium-sized bird that is known for its striking features and unique coloration. 

The Black-tailed Godwit has a long, straight bill that curves slightly upwards towards the tip. It has long, slender legs that are perfectly adapted for wading through shallow water. The bird has a distinctive black and white stripe pattern on its head and neck, with a brownish-grey body and black tail. It also has a long, elegant neck and a plump, rounded body.

The Black-tailed Godwit has a brownish-grey body with a black tail. The head and neck are patterned with black and white stripes, which is particularly striking in breeding males. The female Black-tailed Godwit has a slightly duller coloration compared to the male.

The Black-tailed Godwit stands at a height of around 37-44 cm (14.5-17.3 inches). It weighs around 240-450 grams (8.5-16 ounces). The bird has a length of around 40-44 cm (15.7-17.3 inches). Its wingspan ranges from 70-82 cm (27.5-32.2 inches).

The Black-tailed Godwit is known to be a fast flier, capable of reaching speeds of up to 60 km/h (37 mph). It also has impressive endurance, being able to fly for long distances without stopping.

Habitat and Food

The Black-tailed Godwit is a wading bird that is found in a variety of wetland habitats, including marshes, mudflats, and shallow ponds. 

In terms of food, the Black-tailed Godwit is primarily a carnivorous bird, feeding on insects, small crustaceans, and mollusks. They use their long, slender beak to probe and search for food in the mud and shallow waters of wetland habitats.

During the breeding season, Black-tailed Godwits typically nest in wet meadows or other areas with dense vegetation near shallow water. They build their nests on the ground and lay 3-4 eggs at a time. Both male and female birds take turns incubating the eggs and caring for the young.

Its diet and nesting habits are closely tied to its environment, making it an important indicator of the health and wellbeing of wetland ecosystems.


The Black-tailed Godwit is a migratory bird that breeds in the wetlands and marshes of northern Europe and western Russia. During the non-breeding season, they travel thousands of kilometers to their wintering grounds, including India.

Black-tailed Godwits usually start their migration from their breeding grounds in northern Europe and western Russia in late July or early August. They fly across the skies of western and central Asia, crossing the Himalayas, and arrive in India from September to November.

In India, Black-tailed Godwits can be found in a range of wetland habitats, including coastal mudflats, estuaries, and marshes, in states such as Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh. They are primarily passage migrants, stopping in India to rest and refuel before continuing their journey to their final wintering grounds in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and other parts of Southeast Asia.

The main purpose of their migration to India is to rest and feed on the abundant supply of aquatic invertebrates, such as worms, mollusks, and crustaceans, found in the wetlands of the Indian subcontinent. Some Black-tailed Godwits also use the wetlands of India as a breeding ground.

In India, Black-tailed Godwits can be seen until March, after which they start their northward journey back to their breeding grounds in Europe and western Russia. They usually leave India by late March or early April, flying across the Himalayas and central Asia, covering thousands of kilometers to reach their breeding grounds.

IUCN Status

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Black-tailed Godwit is currently classified as “Near Threatened” on the Red List of Threatened Species. This means that although the species is not currently at risk of extinction, it is likely to become endangered in the near future if conservation measures are not taken to address the threats it faces.

In response to its declining population, various conservation efforts have been initiated to protect the Black-tailed Godwit and its habitat. These efforts include the creation of protected areas, such as wetland reserves, and the implementation of measures to reduce hunting and regulate land use practices that impact its breeding and feeding grounds.

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