Black-tailed Godwit

Limosa limosa

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


A tall, elegant wader, the black-tailed godwit breeds in wet grasslands and winters on coastal estuaries and marshes, and inland shallow waters. A sociable bird, the black-tailed godwit forms large flocks when feeding, probing the mud with its bill for invertebrate-prey. Black-tailed godwits form monogamous pairs which can last for 25 years. Every year, these faithful pairs will arrive at their breeding grounds within three days of each other, mate and raise their chicks together.

How to identify

When they fly, black-tailed godwits have a black tail, square, white rump and broad, white wingbars; their feet stick out well beyond their tail. Taller than the bar-tailed godwit, with a straighter bill. During the spring and summer, adults have a greyish back, white belly and brick-orange head, neck and chest. In the winter, they are grey above and white below.

Where to find it

A rare breeding bird of wet grasslands in East Anglia, Kent and north-west England. Fairly common on migration at wetlands throughout the country. Winters on estuaries along the south coast.


When to find it

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

How can people help

Breeding populations of black-tailed godwits have declined dramatically in recent years. Local Wildlife Trusts across the country are looking after wetland and coastal habitats for the benefit of wading birds like black-tailed godwits. Ensuring breeding birds are not disturbed, ponds and lakes have muddy shallows and shores and farmers use wildlife-friendly farming practices are just some of the ways we're helping. And you can help too: volunteer for The Wildlife Trusts and you could be involved in everything from monitoring populations to raising awareness about nesting birds.

Species information

Common name
Black-tailed Godwit
Latin name
Limosa limosa
Wading birds
Length: 36-44cm Wingspan: 76cm Weight: 280-340g Average Lifespan: 18 years
Conservation status
Classified in the UK as a Red List species under the Birds of Conservation Concern review and as a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.