Bar-tailed Godwit

Limosa lapponica

  1. Wildlife
  2. Birds
  3. Wading birds
  4. Bar-tailed Godwit


Bar-tailed Godwits are large, tall waders which breed in Arctic Scandinavia and Siberia and migrate here in their thousands, either for the whole winter or on their way to wintering grounds further south. Large numbers can be spotted in large estuaries such as the Thames, Dee, Humber and Wash.

How to identify

When they fly, Bar-tailed Godwits have a barred tail, a white wedge on the rump and up onto the back and no wingbars; their feet only just stick out past their tail. Shorter-necked and shorter-legged than Black-tailed Godwit, with a slightly upturned bill. During the spring and summer, adults are dark brown and grey above, with a dark brick-red head, neck and underparts. In the winter, they are streaky-grey above and white below.

Where to find it

Fairly common on migration at wetlands throughout the country. Winters in large numbers on estuaries and around all coasts.


When to find it

  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December
  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April

How can people help

The non-breeding population of Bar-tailed Godwits is important in the UK, but its coastal habitats are under threat from development, pollution and changing land use. To keep populations of wading birds healthy, we need to ensure that our marine environment is managed properly. The Wildlife Trusts are working with fishermen, researchers, politicians and local people towards a vision of 'Living Seas', where marine wildlife thrives from coast to deep sea. Do your bit for our Living Seas by supporting your local Wildlife Trust.

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Species information

Common name
Bar-tailed Godwit
Latin name
Limosa lapponica
Wading birds
Length: 33-42cm Wingspan: 75cm Weight: 300-370g Average Lifespan: 5 years
Conservation status
Classified in the UK as an Amber List species under the Birds of Conservation Concern review.