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The Ivory Bill·Birds·Shorebirds

Marbled Godwit, Limosa fedoa

Marbled godwit standing on one leg in shallow water near shore.

​Marbled Godwits are large shorebirds that breed in various wetland habitats across North America, including freshwater and saltwater marshes and mudflats, typically from April to July.

During the breeding season, these birds are commonly found in coastal estuaries and salt pans, where they primarily forage for a diet consisting of aquatic invertebrates such as worms, mollusks, and small crustaceans. They use their long, slightly upturned bills to probe the mud and sand for these prey items.

Marbled Godwits are known for their strikingly long bills and unique feeding behavior, often employing a “sewing machine” motion to extract prey from the substrate.

Courtship in Marbled Godwits involves aerial displays and vocalizations, with males attempting to impress females through their flight patterns and calls.

For nest building, they create shallow scrapes in the ground, typically lined with grasses and sedges. These nests are often situated in the wetland areas near their foraging grounds.

After laying eggs, the adults share the responsibility of incubation. Once the eggs hatch, the parents provide care and protection to the chicks, primarily feeding them a diet of insects, small invertebrates, and occasionally small fish.

As the chicks grow, they learn to forage under the guidance of the adults, acquiring the skills needed for their unique feeding habits.

Eventually, the young Marbled Godwits fledge and continue to receive guidance from the adults as they refine their foraging techniques and adapt their diets to include a wider range of prey.

In late summer, Marbled Godwits undertake long-distance flights, leaving their breeding grounds. They follow established migration routes to their wintering regions in Central and South America.

During the winter, these birds inhabit coastal habitats, estuaries, and tidal flats where they forage primarily on small invertebrates and crustaceans, taking advantage of the rich feeding opportunities in these areas. Their winter diet may also include small fish and plant material as available in these regions.

Individuals start to make the journey back to their northern breeding grounds in February or March.