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Hudsonian Godwit

Limosa haemastica

Length: 15 inches Wingspan: 28 inches Seasonality: Migrant
ID Keys: Long pink-based upcurved bill with black tip, rich chestnut below in spring migration through the state, black barring, dark legs.

Hudsonian Godwit - Limosa haemasticaFound in South Dakota during the spring migration, the Hudsonian Godwit migrates off the Atlantic Coast during the fall migration and is never seen in South Dakota in that aseason.  They have the typical "Godwit bill", slightly upcurved and two-toned, with a striking black and white pattern on their wings and tail (seen in flight) that easily differentiate them from the Marbled Godwit, the other godwit species found in South Dakota.  Godwits may utilize deeper water when feeding than do most other shorebirds.  The Hudsonian Godwit is known as one of the world's longest non-stop migrants, as their fall migrations evidently are non-stop from their breeding grounds in the Arctic, to their wintering grounds in southern South America.

Habitat:

Freshwater marshes, mudflats, flooded fields during migration.  Nests on mixed tundra/wetlands in northern Canada and Alaska.

Diet:

Primarily insects inland during its migration through the state.  Hudsonian Godwits will also feed on crustaceans, mollusks, and marine worms.

Behavior:

Forages in shallow water, using its long bill to probe in the mud beneath for food items. 

Breeding:

Non-breeder in South Dakota.  In breeding range, the nest of a Hudsonian Godwit is a shallow depression on the ground, with a sparse lining of vegetative material.  The female usually lays 4 eggs, and both parents help to incubate them.  When the eggs hatch, the young soon leave the nest and find their own food, but both parents help to protect them.  The young fledge after about one month.

Song:

High-pitched kae-wit, or more simple single call notes.

1Click here to hear the call notes of a Hudsonian Godwit.

2Click here to hear the calls and "song" of a male Hudsonian Godwit

Migration:

Summers in northern Canada and Alaska, migrating through the center of North America in the spring. Migration south in the fall is primarily off the Atlantic coast as it makes its way to South America for the winter. 

Interactive eBird map:

Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Hudsonian Godwit sightings

Similar Species:

Inside the borders of South Dakota, they are most likely to be confused with Marbled Godwit. Outside of South Dakota, they could potentially be confused with the Bar-tailed Godwit and Black-tailed Godwit.

Conservation Status:

Hudsonian Godwits were were seriously depleted in the 19th century due to hunting pressures. Populations rebounded in the 20th century, but populations have been showing signs of decline in recent decades. .  However, they are still found across a relatively broad geographic area and are relatively common in parts of their range. As a result, the IUCN lists the Hudsonian Godwit as a species of "Least Concern".

Further Information:

1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Hudsonian Godwit

2) WhatBird - Hudsonian Godwit

3) Audubon Guide - Hudsonian Godwit

Photo Information:

April 23rd, 2020 -- Lake Thompson, South Dakota -- Terry Sohl

Additional Photos:

Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Hudsonian Godwit photos.

Audio File Credits:

1Garrett MacDonald. Photo taken in the Kenai Peninsula of Alaska on June 6th, 2014. Original recording and information from xeno-canto.

2Doug Hynes. Photo taken near Churchill, Manitoba on June 14th, 2010. Original recording and inforrmation from xeno-canto

 

Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Hudsonian Godwit - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Common spring migrant in the eastern part of the state, only a casual migrant in the fall.  Accidental migrant in the western part of the state.

Additional Hudsonian Godwit Photos
Click for a higher-resolution version of these photos
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