WatchList Species Account for Bar-tailed Godwit
(Limosa laponica)

Qualifies for the list as a Declining Yellow List Species

Bar-tailed Godwit. Photo: USFWS

Photo: USFWS

The Bar-tailed Godwit is a widespread shorebird which breeds from northern Scandanavia discontinuously eastward across northern Siberia and into Alaska, where it breeds treeless tundra dominated by sedges and dwarf shrubs in the western and northern part of the state.


In Alaska during breeding it forages predominantly for invertebrates and berries in dwarf-shrub meadow tundra, whereas in nonbreeding it feeds on coastal mudflats, mainly on marine mollusks, crustaceans, and worms. The Alaskan birds winter in southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and other islands of the southwest Pacific, while those breeding in northern Europe spend the winter on the western coasts of Europe and Africa and as far east as India. The global population is estimated at about 1.2 million birds and the Alaskan population at about 120,000 birds.

There is no information about trends in the Alaskan population but numbers in Africa have declined by nearly 50% in the last 20 years, while declining in western Europe in the 1980s but increasing by the mid-1990s. In Alaska indigenous people harvest up to 1,900 birds a year, and seom 2-3,000 are caught for food during migration on the east coast of China. Habitat degradation in eastern Asia and Scandinavia is a concern, but the global population seems stable.