Black-Tailed Godwit: 15 Facts You Won't Believe!

Learn these black-tailed godwit facts and fascinate your kids.

The black-tailed godwit is a small, rare migratory bird that can be found in North America and Europe.  These birds are most commonly seen during their migration season. When searching for food, they fly at night to avoid predators with an aerial display known as a wading run-up. They take long flights and stop intermittently to feed before continuing onward into another flight segment called a wade down.

The black-tailed godwit is a small but beautiful bird with an interesting history. The male of the species has a remarkable plumage that resembles fiery flames, while the female's feathers are not as showy and often have brown or dark gray hues instead. The comical beak of this tiny marsh dweller gives it its name, from the Old English 'godwin', which means 'to whisper'. This is because they make soft noises to communicate with each other when frightened by humans or predators approaching their nest sites.

These godwits feed mainly on insects along shorelines near ponds, marshes, creeks, and rivers where larvae live in wetland plants like algae. This bird is known to be one of the most beautiful birds in North America. It's really something else to see such this animal fly so gracefully through woodland areas with its wings spread wide open! The black-tailed godwit has won many hearts due to its irresistibly stunning appearance which earns it spots atop charts of cute birds year after year.

For more relatable content, check out these birds of paradise facts and kestrel facts for kids.

Black-Tailed Godwit

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Bristle-worms, crabs, shrimps, other crustaceans, and invertebrates

What do they eat?


Average litter size?


How much do they weigh?

Females: 0.7 lb (340 g) Males: 0.6 lb (280 g)

How long are they?

Length: 17 in (42 cm)

Wingspan: 28-32 in (70-82 cm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Brown, white, yellow, orange, black, and gray

Skin Type


What are their main threats?

Foxes and stoats

What is their conservation status?

Near Threatened

Where you'll find them

Grass plains, open meadows, and forests


Europe, Asia, Russia





Scientific Name

Limosa limosa





Black-Tailed Godwit Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a black-tailed godwit?

The black-tailed godwit (Limosa limosa) is a type of bird that lives on the coasts of North America.

What class of animal does a black-tailed godwit belong to?

This bird is an avian creature that belongs to the class Aves like a hummingbird. Aves means 'bird' in Latin.

How many black-tailed godwits are there in the world?

Some scientists speculate that there are as few as 100 breeding pairs left. That means they're on their way to becoming critically threatened!

Where does a black-tailed godwit live?

These black-tailed godwits (Limosa) are migratory birds that live in the northern hemisphere. They make their homes on sandy shorelines along oceans, lakes, and rivers where they can easily catch small fish to feed themselves.

What is a black-tailed godwit's habitat?

The typical black-tailed godwit habitat is pleasant. A cool, clean ocean breeze and a forest of grass are just two things that make this bird happy! These godwits (Limosa limosa) spend their time foraging on beaches near estuaries or around sandbars where they wait to catch fish with their short beaks

Who do black-tailed godwits live with?

The black-tailed godwit (Limosa limosa) is an interesting bird. It lives in small groups of six to eight birds, but it also migrates with large flocks that are simply called 'godwits'.

How long does a black-tailed godwit live?

The lifespan of these birds (Limosa limosa) varies by many factors, but it is estimated that they usually only have an average life span in the wild of about six years.

How do they reproduce?

When the mating season comes around these birds typically mate in monogamous pairs called breeding pairs. They mate in the summer mostly, like other similar birds including the Hudsonian godwit! These mates then produce three to six eggs each breeding season which are incubated by both parents after being laid.

What is their conservation status?

The IUCN conservation status of the black-tailed godwit (Limosa limosa) species is Near Threatened.

Black-tailed Godwit Fun Facts

What do black-tailed godwits look like?

This bar-tailed godwit (Limosa limosa) species is a small wading bird that can be found on the edges of marshes and ponds. They have blackish heads, necks, and breasts with white underparts. Their long straight bill is dark at the tip and they have yellow eyes which they use to find their food (such as worms or insects) in shallow water attached to plants along shorelines. This bird feeds by upending its bill into mud looking for prey alongside other birds like green herons, egrets, and gulls.

The long-billed black-tailed godwit (Limosa limosa) has a bar-tailed tip with a white rump and breeding plumage.

How cute are they?

These black godwits are truly one of the most beautiful things to see in nature.

How do they communicate?

These long bar-tailed godwits are one of nature's greatest communicators, even being able to use their black tail for signaling! These birds are adept at using their tails as an indicator that they have seen danger or food nearby, passing on this information with ease from bird to bird in order not just to save themselves but also to protect others in their species.

How big is a black-tailed godwit?

For those who are unfamiliar with the long bar-tailed godwit, it's not hard to identify. This long-billed bird measures 17 in (42 cm) in length and can have a wingspan of up to 28-32 in (70-82 cm).

How fast can a black-tailed godwit move?

A large black-tailed godwit in flight is gorgeous as they are one of the fastest bird species in North America. They can reach speeds upwards of 80 mph (125-130 kph) while flying over open terrain with little obstruction.

How much does a black-tailed godwit weigh?

The weight of male and female bar-tailed godwits varies slightly between each other, ranging as high as 0.6 lb (280 g) for a male down to around  0.7 lb (340 g) in females!

What are their male and female names of the species?

There are no specific terms for males and females of this large, long and interesting species. Both can be called simply black tail godwits all year round!

What would you call a baby black-tailed godwit?

A baby godwit simply goes by the name godwit chick!

What do they eat?

Large black-tailed godwit food mostly includes bristle-worms, crabs, shrimps, other crustaceans, and invertebrates!

Are they dangerous?

The black-tailed godwit can be found over a wide area in the European regions and these birds are not dangerous unless provoked!

Would they make a good pet?

The black godwit is a bird that most people do not expect to be domesticated as a pet. This species is made for the wild!

Did you know...

The black-tailed godwit call is amazing! It is a unique sound that makes it one of the most easily identifiable species in North America.

Where does black-tailed godwit migrate from?

The bar-tailed godwit with breeding plumage migrates from the black-tailed godwit range in Asia, Europe, and Africa to breeding grounds during the breeding season in Alaska.

What is the origin of the name godwit?

The origin of the name 'godwit' is a question that has been debated by naturalists for centuries now. It has been found that 'godwin' in Old English means 'to whisper', however, 'godwit' also comes from an Old English word meaning 'great god'.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these sea eagle facts and white gyrfalcon facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable black-winged lovebird coloring pages.



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