Bar-Tailed Godwit

Limosa lapponica

What do they look like?

The bar-tailed godwit is a relatively large wader. It has a long bill that is curved slightly upwards and long black legs. However, its legs are shorter than the black-tailed godwit (Limosa limosa), which is otherwise similar. In winter this species is greyish brown with pale undersides but in spring the male's back becomes darker and browner, and its head and belly turn brick red. When in flight, a triangular patch of white feathers on the lower back is visible; you can also spot the barred (striped) black and white tail that gives the bird its name.

When can I see them in Scotland?

All year round but most abundant during winter.

Where can I see them in Scotland?

Bar-tailed godwits are common around large mudflats and estuaries such as the Forth.

Conservation status

In the UK, bird species with breeding, passage or wintering populations are assessed by experts and assigned to Red, Amber or Green lists of conservation concern. Bar-tailed godwits are currently an ‘Amber’ listed species.

20-22 days
5 years
Average Lifespan

Bar-tailed godwit walking along wet sand
© Lukaszsokol, Shutterstock