Marbled Godwits are among the largest of the sandpipers that
visit the state, only being surpassed by the Long-billed
Curlew. Fairly gregarious, they tend to breed in loose colonies, where
they prefer native prairie with adjacent wetlands. Hunting by day or
by night on mudflats or shallow waters, Marbled Godwits primarily find food
items by touch, sometimes probing deeply enough to submerge their entire
head below the water's surface.
Habitat: During summer months, breeding Marbled
Godwits prefer native prairie with marshes or other wetlands nearby.
During migration, they can be found in and around nearly any aquatic
Diet: Primarily feeds on
insects during the summer months. Will also feed on plant roots and seeds,
especially from grasses and aquatic plants. They will also feed on
crustaceans, mollusks, and marine worms on their coastal wintering grounds.
Behavior: In summer months while breeding in South
Dakota, feeds heavily on insects by gleaning then from upland foliage or
picking them up from the ground. In all months, also wades in shallow
water or walks on mudflats, probing with its bill in the mud or picking food
items off the mud or water's surface.
Nesting: June and July
Song: Coarse nasal kwek in
Migration: Summers on the northern Great Plains into southern Canada. Winters along
the Pacific coast, with somewhat lesser numbers wintering on the Gulf Coast.
Some winter as far away as South America.
Status: Populations are drastically reduced from
historical levels. Hunting took a big toll in the 19th century.
Populations rebounded somewhat when hunting pressures abated in the 20th
century. However, expanding agricultural lands have resulted in
habitat loss, and numbers have begun to decline once again.
Photo Information: July 2007 - Lake Thompson,
Kingsbury County, South Dakota - Terry Sohl
Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or
text links below for additional, higher-resolution Marbled Godwit photos.