The Bar-tailed Godwit is a relatively short-legged species of godwit. The bill-to-tail length is 37-41 cm, with a wingspan of 70-80 cm. Males average smaller than females but with much overlap; males weigh 190-400 g, while females weigh 260-630 g; there is also some regional variation in size (see subspecies, below). The adult has blue-grey legs and a very long dark bill with a slight upward curve and pink at the tip. The neck, breast and belly are unbroken brick red in breeding plumage, off white in winter. The back is mottled grey. It is distinguished from the Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa) by its barred, rather than wholly black, tail and a lack of white wing bars. The most similar species is the Asiatic Dowitcher.
Habitat and Distribution
The Bar-tailed Godwit migrates in flocks to coastal East Asia, Alaska, Australia, Africa, northwestern Europe and New Zealand. Its migration is the longest known non-stop flight of any bird and also the longest journey without pausing to feed by any animal.
It forages by probing in mudflats or marshes. It may find insects by sight in short vegetation. It eats mainly insects and crustaceans, but also parts of aquatic plants.
The Bar-tailed Godwit is a non-breeding migrant in Australia. Breeding take place each year in Scandinavia, northern Asia, and Alaska. The nest is a shallow cup in moss sometimes lined with vegetation. Both sexes share incubation of the eggs and care for the young.