WatchList Species Account for Hudsonian Godwit
(Limosa haemastica)

Qualifies for the list as a Declining Yellow List Species


Hudsonian Godwit by Dale and Marian Zimmerman

Photo: Eleanor Briccetti

With most of its population restricted to a few remote sites at any given time of the year, the Hudsonian Godwit was once regarded as one of the rarest birds in North America. Gradually biologists became aware that large migrating flocks of the bird gather along the coast of James Bay and Hudson Bay, that there are fall staging sites in Saskatchewan, and major wintering areas in southern South America.


The bird’s conservation status is somewhat precarious since the total estimated population is no more than 50,000 individuals, most occuring at only a few sites during the nonbreeding season. Its breeding range is not well-known; since only a small proportion of the population is found on its known breeding locations, many others remain to be discovered. Preferred habitatconsists of sedge meadows and muskeg at the tree line in Canada and Alaska, often near coastal mudflats or major rivers.


There are a number of important staging areas during migration, including several lakes in Saskatchewan and Cheyenne Bottoms, Kansas. From these staging areas the bird apparently flies non-stop several thousand miles to two major disjunct wintering sites in the pampas and coastal mudflats of Argentina and Chile.


There is little information available on which to base an assessment of population trends, though historically its numbers were impacted by heavy hunting on both the wintering grounds and in North America. Protection not only of breeding and wintering but also staging sites is essential for its conservation.