Family Sandpipers, Snipes, Phalaropes (Scolopacidae)

Near Threatened

Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa)


French: Barge à queue noire German: Uferschnepfe Spanish: Aguja colinegra

Scolopax Limosa


, 1758,



Closely related to L. haemastica, and previously considered conspecific. Race melanuroides recently considered probably a separate species#R but, apart from notably smaller size, differences appear to be minor and vocalizations similar; furthermore, genetic distances between the two found to be very small#R. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • L. l. islandica C. L. Brehm, 1831 – Iceland, Faeroes, Shetland and Lofoten Is; winters in Ireland, Britain, W France, Spain and Portugal.
  • L. l. limosa (Linnaeus, 1758) – Western Black-tailed Godwit – W & C Europe and Russia E to upper R Yenisey; winters in Mediterranean and sub-Saharan Africa, and E through Middle East to W India.
  • L. l. melanuroides Gould, 1846 – Eastern Black-tailed Godwit – disjunct populations in Siberia E of R Yenisey, E Mongolia, NE China and Russian Far East; winters from India, Indochina, Taiwan and Philippines S to Indonesia, New Guinea, Melanesia, Australia and probably New Zealand.
  • Descriptive notes

    36–44 cm; male 160–440 g, female 244–500 g; wingspan 70–82 cm. Tall, ­elegant godwit with chestnut breast and upper belly; dark brown barring on... read more


    Quite vocal on the breeding grounds, elsewhere rather quiet. Two distinct display calls mostly... read more


    Wet grassland with moderately high grass and soft soil, in lowlands; also grassy marshland, raised... read more

    Food and feeding

    Chiefly invertebrates, most frequently insects and their larvae (especially beetles), annelids, molluscs, ragworms, crustaceans, spiders,... read more


    Laying Apr to mid-Jun. Monogamous on long-term basis. Often in loose, semi-colonial groups, up to 3 pairs/ha. High degree of site fidelity... read more


    Migration on broad front, often overland, characterized by long distance flights between relatively... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Currently considered Near Threatened. Total population estimated at 140,000–270,000 pairs, of which over two thirds breed in Europe, with 85,... read more

    Recommended citation

    Van Gils, J., Wiersma, P., Christie, D.A., Garcia, E.F.J. & Boesman, P. (2020). Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 3 April 2020).