Mobile bird identification
Bird Field Guide

In winter the Black-Tailed Godwit has a smooth grey-brown neck, breast and upperparts. The underside is light grey and the bill is dark with a flesh pink base.

Black-Tailed Godwit

  Limosa limosa
Waders Menu
Order: Charadriiformes

Family: Scolopacidae

Genus:  Limosa

Species: L. limosa
The male Black-Tailed Godwit in summer is a stunning bird, with a chestnut red head and breast. The underside is strongly barred with dark brown. The extent of the Chestnut red on the breast varies depending upon the birds race.
Adult Male & Female (Winter)
Black-Tailed Godwit distribution
Winter visitor
Resident bird
Passage Migrant
Summer visitor
General distribution:
Breeds in Northern Europe, Iceland and central Asia, around 100 pair nest in the UK. Winters in Southern Africa. Icelandic birds winter in the UK where high numbers are found throughout the autumn and winter months.
Likes to nest in damp grassy moorland and bog. However can also be found on drier grassland but near freshwater marshes. In winter can be found on muddy estuaries, usually roosting on nearby farmland at high tide. Will also feed in wet agricultural fields.
Thousands of Black-Tailed Godwits arrive in the UK every autumn, some still in breeding plumage. It favours certain estuaries to spend the winter on, and does not tend to wander far, flocks can reach numbers of several thousand in some areas.
Black-Tailed Godwit in winter plumage.
The solid black tail and wing bars separate the Black-Tail Godwit from the Bar Tailed Godwit, which as it's name suggests has a barred tail and no wing bars.
Thanks to: (Modified)
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This image shows the Black-Tailed Godwit's bold wing bars, which are an important point of identification.
Adult Male (Summer)
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The Black-Tailed Godwit's colouration varies depending upon the age of the bird, the time of year and, the race. Winter birds often have a reddish tinge to the neck, however they can also be a very dull grey. This bird has the colour of a typical winter visitor to the UK.
Thanks to: (Modified)
Note the much lighter bill and the barring on the birds underside.
Black-Tailed Godwit in winter plumage
Black-Tailed Godwit flying

Pale grey underside

*Neck often has rust red tinge
* key ID points
Long thick bill, flesh pink at base
Very long legs

*Bold white wing bar and rump

Grey-brown back and neck

*Solid black tail

Black-Tailed Godwit flock
Black-Tailed Godwit showing tail
Black-Tailed Godwit in winter plumage
Black-Tailed Godwit in summer plumage identification
Long thick bill, flesh pink at base
Very long legs
* key ID points
*Chestnut red head and breast
*Underside barred with dark brown
Strongly mottled black, chestnut and brown upperparts
Thanks to: (Modified)
Black-Tailed Godwit in summer plumage
Black-Tailed Godwit female in summer plumage
Thanks to: (Modified)
Adult Female (Summer)
The female bird has less chestnut-red on the breast, and is white further up the breast. Her bill is longer, and her upperparts have less colouration.
Black-Tailed Godwit juvenile
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The juvenile bird has an all over, warm buff appearance. The birds back feathers are dark and neatly edged with buff.
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