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Last updated on April 24, 2014 at 17:35 EDT

Black-tailed Godwit

The Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa), is a large shorebird that migrates in flocks to western Europe, Africa, south Asia and Australia. Interestingly, although this species occurs in Ireland and Great Britain all year round, they are not the same birds. The breeding birds depart in autumn, but are replaced in winter by the larger Icelandic race, L. l. islandica. These birds occasionally appear in the Aleutian Islands and, rarely, on the Atlantic coast of North America.

Adults have blue-gray legs and a very long straight bill with a slight upward curve and pink at the base. The neck, breast and belly are brick red in breeding plumage, off white in winter. The back is mottled gray. Their breeding habitat is temperate wetlands in Europe and Asia on open grassland. They nest on the ground, usually in short vegetation, laying 3-6 eggs.

These birds forage by probing on mudflats or in marshes. In short vegetation, they may pick up insects by sight. They mainly eat insects and crustaceans, but also eat parts of aquatic plants. They are much more likely to be found on freshwater than the coastal Bar-tailed Godwit.

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Black-tailed Godwit