At one point, Hudsonian Godwits were considered a rare species. Some even suspected they were on the verge of extinction. The simple truth was that this large sandpiper species traveled a long route between southern America and the arctic, leading researchers to miss their presence on the land.
They have the same graceful way about them that most shorebirds have. Long legs and a straight but upward curved bill characterizes them. We can’t miss the colorful plumage they develop during the breeding season, which sparkles with brick red, brown, and gold. Wading through tidal mudflats and bogs in the arctic areas, they dip their long bill to take out invertebrates. During migration season, their plumage transforms into a faded gray-brown color. After that, they are ready to migrate over 10000 miles. Their destination? The mere starting tip of South America. This long journey occurs without any rest in the middle.
Today, we’ll learn about:
- Hudsonian Godwit color patterns, songs, and size
- Hudsonian Godwit behavior, habitat, and diet
- Hudsonian Godwit life cycle, nesting, and migration range
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Hudsonian Godwits Color Pattern
For Hudsonian Godwits, the one thing that naturally makes them stand out among all their features is their bill. It has two colors. The bill starts with a bright, carrot color shade and ends in black, dark color. The legs of the species are also black in color. It is a complete charcoal black. If we look at the belly of breeding Hudsonian Godwits, it has a rusty color to it. It shares the brown color for a long time before moving on to the back, where it is a mottled dark brown. The back also has some shades of stripes, squared white in between the brown.
The wings and the back are of the same shade. If we look at the face, it also has a mix of white and dark brown. However, the intensity of the dark brown color lightens around the face.
Compared to the breeding Godwits, the juvenile ones have a different color scheme. While their bill is more whitish pink at the start and ending with a dark black, their belly is a plain, buff-colored one. The back and wings are the same, brown colored. However, the plethora of white, squared stripes is missing. Their legs and their eyes are still black like other birds What is interesting is the eyebrow color. It is white in color.
Description And Identification
In general, one should not have a tough time identifying Hudsonian Godwits. They are distinctive in their looks. When you see them, it is hard to mistake the shorebird species with any other. For one, the length of their body is unique. Lots of shorebirds are lengthy in shape and big. However, the proportions of Hudsonian Godwits are much more specific to them.
Their bicolored bill is a huge giveaway, as it makes them easier to identify. If they are in juvenile form, the bill color is a mix of pink and black. The breeding adult form of the Hudsonian Godwits has a carrot-colored bill accompanied by black at the end. There’s also the fact that they are one of the few species of shorebirds seen perched on top of trees. Usually, these species either fly or dip their head into shallow waters to pick out their prey. Hudsonian Godwits love observing the world from a perch, though.
If you want to see them eventually, your best bet is the spring migration period. During that time, they fly over central America. This is the time you would want to hover around mudflats and tidal flats in the hopes of seeing them. Otherwise, these species fly over the immense ocean waters for an extended period. Their migration time is longer than many other species, and they never rest during this time. When they do come back on land, they again look for food around small ponds. Sometimes, their sweet, melodic calls might help you identify them.
Hudsonian Godwit Song
While flying, male Hudsonian Godwits repeat some phrases over and over again. These are rapid sets of vocalizations, with a rhythmic and rollicking quality to them. They have tremendous similarities to other Godwit species’ songs during flight displays. Well, it may be considered a song, though not necessarily as it is more similar to repeated calls.
One of their calls is a white sound. It is a dry sound. The other is a melodic, sweet dew doo from Hudsonian Godwits. Apart from them, there is also the noise that comes out of the wings of the male Godwits when they make aerial displays and dive downward. Their wings are open, and the air passing through them produces this winnowing sound. You might liken it to the flying sound of a toy airplane.
Hudsonian Godwit Size
The shorebirds of the mudflats and arctic tundras, Hudsonian Godwits, are a large species. Their legs are long, really long. Apart from them, there is also the noise that comes out of the wings of the male Godwits when they make aerial displays and dive downward. The bill is also a long one, especially compared to the size of the face. The bill also curves upward at the end. Overall, a Willet would be small in front of Hudsonian Godwits, meanwhile, a Marbled Godwit would be easily bigger than them.
In length, they are about 36-42 cm and weigh around 196-358 grams. The wingspan is about 29 inches.
Hudsonian Godwit Behavior
Hudsonian Godwits walk around shallow water areas. They use their long bill to probe at the mud under the water. From there, they pick out their prey. Oftentimes, as they are so concentrated, wading through the water looking for their food, part of their head is always under the water rather than out of it.
What Hudsonian Godwits Eat
They have a diverse diet. Yet, despite having a varied diet, not much is known about their diet. We know they like insects and prefer invertebrates, which include mollusks, worms residing in water, and crustaceans.
If they are on their breeding grounds, they end up fulfilling their nutrition intake by eating insects. They might eat flies and the larvae of those flies. During migration season, their diet gets to have more choices. They can be crustaceans and eat mollusks found on the coasts.
Where Hudsonian Godwits Live And Habitat
Whatever muddy, slimy, dark places you can think of, Hudsonian Godwits will show up there. Mudflat, marshy areas, and prairie pools are their favorite foraging grounds. In summer, they flutter about tundra edges. These migrant birds frequently spent the spring nearby mudflats based around ponds, mashy, shallow lakes, and pastures with brimming water.
The migrant birds of the fall season are usually around the Atlantic coast. You can generally find them on tidal flats or marsh ponds. They nest far north, where open woods are decorated with patchy tundra and ponds. The treelines here are their favorite area for creating nests.
Range and Migration
Is it any wonder that Hudsonian Godwits can be seen twittering about Hudson Bay’s shore? That’s where they breed, along with Alaska and Canada’s northwestern tree line. The ground is their nesting place. Usually, marsh surrounds their nest, hiding it from view.
During migration season, their wings carry them to the Caribbean and South of America. Before fall migration begins, they are seen forming a large group at James Bay. If the weather is optimal, they won’t pause at any of their resting points and carry on south. In South Africa, Europe, and Australia, they appear as vagrants.
During the end of July and the beginning of August, they migrate through the eastern coastal side of North America.
Hudsonian Godwit Life Cycle
Hudsonian Godwits might lay 4 eggs in a brood. Sometimes, though a rare occurrence, their egg count drops to a 3. The color of the eggs is a dark olive-shaded brown. The eggs also have splashes of brown, though mostly invisible, due to the brown color of the eggs. Both the parents incubate the eggs, which may take 22 to 25 days.
Soon after they come out of the eggs, the young are prepared to leave the nest. The young are capable of finding food on their own at this point and do so. Still, the parents tend to them. In fact, the adults take on an extremely aggressive stance every time they feel their young are threatened. When they turn 30 days old, they become capable enough to fly on their own.
In their nesting territories, you can’t miss out on the display of male Hudsonian Godwits. They fly high, calling all the while. At the pinnacle of their show, they do a gliding flight. By this point, their wings would have formed a V shape.. Their call also turns higher in intensity. Then, they make a straight run for the ground.
Often, male Godwits are seen perched on the highest point of trees. Their courtship involves chasing after the female Godwit while flying.
The nest is usually built on the ground. Not any ground, though. They prefer the marshlands and the mud. They might choose a small shrub and then place it over a hammock under the shrub. Other times, they keep it surrounded with grass, hidden from view on all counts. If you are a regular birder and are trying to find the nest to observe the young, good luck to you. They conceal it so well that you might see the nest and still miss it.
The nest itself is a shallow depression made out of available vegetation. Leaves are used to line it, though used sparsely.
Anatomy of a Hudsonian Godwit
The first thing you notice about Hudsonian Godwits is how large they are. The height is the first thing anyone notices about this species of shorebirds. It is not only that they have a long neck and long legs, but even the belly area in the middle that joins the tail at the end is long. Their bill is even longer. If you compare it to the length of their face, which, while big, is small for their body, the bill that extends from it is pretty long. The beak is turned upward at the end.
The legs are a bit scrawny with tiny feet. It is a wonder that the legs are capable of supporting the entire body of the Hudsonian Godwits. The wings are long, yet, if you look at the tail, it’s almost non-existent. In fact, you might observe them for a long time and still not be able to identify exactly where their tail begins, and the wings end when they have it close to their body.
If you want to see Hudsonian Godwits, the best time to do so would be spring migration specifically, if you happen to live in North America. It is almost impossible to see them during fall migration, as most of the traveling occurs in the vast ocean lands.
In the spring season, though, you may find them on muddy wetlands. They also tend to be attracted towards Central America rather than flying off towards Pacific or Atlantic coasts. An excellent idea would be to look for them around the upper coast of Texas. Here, your best chances are the rice fields brimming with floodwater where the shorebirds get called by the habitat. The flock of Hudsonian Godwits that migrate in spring also show up in Saskatchewan, Dakota, and Kansas.
You might have a more challenging time finding this bird species these days compared to some decades ago. This is because of the late 19th-century’s indiscrimination towards bird shooting. The result is that Hudsonian Godwits have a stable but not a large population count.
Bird Coloring Page
Hudsonian Godwits Bird coloring pages and coloring pictures have somewhat taken a back seat in the child’s development stage. Many children are becoming gadget-friendly and don’t like to do anything that involves something physical. Although cute coloring pages and coloring pictures might seem like a simple task, believe me, it has so many advantages. It excites children, and motivates them, and is a healthy educational activity. Here are some benefits of coloring pages for children.
Bird Watching Academy & Camp Subscription Boxes
At Bird Watching Academy & Camp we help kids, youth, and adults get excited and involved in bird watching. We have several monthly subscription boxes that you can subscribe to. Our monthly subscription boxes help kids, youth, and adults learn about birds, bird watching, and bird conservation.
Bird Watching Binoculars for Identifying Hudsonian Godwit
The most common types of bird-watching binoculars for viewing Hudsonian Godwit are 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. Bird Watching Academy & Camp sells really nice 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. You can view and purchase them here.
Hudsonian Godwit Stickers
Stickers are a great way for you to display your love for bird watching and the Hudsonian Godwit Here is the sticker pack we sell with a Hudsonian Godwit sticker.
Bird Feeders For Hudsonian Godwit
There are many types of bird feeders. Here are our favorite bird feeders for your backyard. We use all of these bird feeders currently. Kids will have a great time watching birds eat at these bird feeders. Using this collection of bird feeders will provide a wide variety and many types of birds.
Best Birdhouses for Hudsonian Godwit
There are many types of bird houses. Building a bird house is always fun but can be frustrating. These 4 bird houses have become our favorites. Getting a birdhouse for kids to watch birds grow is always fun. We spent a little extra money on these bird houses but they have been worth the higher price and look great.