Black-tailed Godwit was the 4th species we saw on our global quest for waders and it is the only one of the four in the genus that is not considered to be of Least Concern by BirdLife International, this being Near Threatened. The reason for this categorisation is that despite having a large global population it is in decline and in some areas drastically so. For example, in the Netherlands the population has declined from 120,000 - 135,000 in 1969 to 46,000 - 62,000 in 2009! Other populations are more stable and in Iceland, although a very small percentage of the overall population, the species is actually increasing slightly. The overall global population is 634,000 - 805,000 and this is thought to have declined some 14% - 33% in the last 15 years. This trend is mainly due to breeding ground habitat loss, drainage of wetlands, agricultural intensification, change of land use, to industrial for example and even the abandonment of land.
|Black-tailed Godwits Limosa Limosa; Titchwell, Norfolk, England. June 2013.|
|Aggression between two Black-tailed Godwits; Titchwell, Norfolk, England. September 2012.|
|Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa limosa; Titchwell, Norfolk, England. June 2013.|
|Black-tailed Godwit L. l. islandica: Titchwell Norfolk, England. September 2013.|
Note: shallower bill base and steeper forehead, c/w photo above.
|Black-tailed Godwit L. l. melanuroides (centre) with Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica menzbieri and Great Knot Calidris tenuirostris; Broome, Western Australia, Australia. September 2013.|
Threats to this species include their own migration strategy. This involves long flights with stop-overs when necessary. For this to be viable there needs to be a large number of suitable sites at regular points along the migration route. Development of coastal areas and wetlands mean that these are becoming fewer and farther between. Another threat, that we witnessed first hand, is the change in farming methods by rice farmers in the southern USA. New techniques mean less traditional rice fields with standing water and more dry fields that are unsuitable for feeding. Many of this species' breeding territories are where oil exploration is expanding in Alaska increasing the threat from contamination of the environment. Hunting is less of a threat than it used to be as it is now illegal across much of its range, but it may still be a problem in South America where remote areas are difficult to police. These birds are greatly susceptible to hunters as they tend to aggregate in large numbers in small areas, thus a small number of hunters can have a significant impact on the population in a very short space of time.
|Hudsonian Godwit Limosa haemastica; Parati, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. October 2011.|
|Hudsonian Godwit Limosa haemastica; rice country, Louisiana, USA. April 2013.|
|Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica lapponica; Titchwell, Norfolk, England. August 2012.|
|Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica lapponica; Titchwell, Norfolk, England. September 2012.|
|Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica lapponica; The Wash, Norfolk, England. March 2013.|
Note: relatively pale underwing and white lower back with little or no barring.
|Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica baueri; Foxton Beach, Manawatu-Wanganui, North Island, New Zealand.|
|Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica baueri: Foxton Beach, Manawatu-Wanganui, North Island, New Zealand.|
Note: underwing is darkest on this subspecies.
|Bar-tailed Godwits Limosa Lapponica baueri; Foxton Beach, Manawatu-Wanganui, North Island, New Zealand.|
Note: No white on the lower back, white limited to uppertail coverts and heavily barred.
Marbled Godwit (66th soecies seen) is a medium to short distance migrant; the nominate race Limosa fedoa fedoa breeds in north central USA and south central Canada plus James Bay and winters south from central California on the Pacific coast and the Carolinas on the Atlantic coast, through the Gulf of Mexico to Panama along continental coasts. A small population of the subspecies Limosa fedoa beringiae breed on the Alaska peninsula. and winters from central California along the Pacific coast of north America north as far as southern Washington State. The total population is in decline and is estimated to be 140,000 - 200,000. The disjunct populations hold very small numbers thought to be about 1,500 in James Bay and 2,000 on the Alaska peninsula.
|Marbled Godwit Limosa fedoa fedoa; our first, Bunche Beach, Fort Myers Florida, USA|
|Marbled Godwit Limosa fedoa fedoa; Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, Huntington Beach, California, USA. December 2012. Now that is what I call a bill!|
|Marbled Godwits Limosa fedoa with Western Willet Tringa inornatus and Hudsonian Whimbrel Numenius hudsonicus; Kendall Frost Marsh, San Diego, California USA. December 2012.|
BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 26/02/2014.
del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. & Sargatal, J. eds (1996) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol3. Hoatzin to Auks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
Chander, R. (2009) Shorebirds of the Northern Hemisphere. A&C Black, London.
Senner, N.R. (2010) Conservation Plan for the Hudsonian Godwit. Version 1.1. Manomet Center for Conservation Science, Manomet, Massachusetts.
Melcher, C.P., Farmer A. & Fernández, G . (2010) Conservation Plan for the Marbled Godwit. Version 1.2. Manomet Center for Conservation Science, Manomet, Massachusetts.