MARBLED GODWIT (Limosa fedoa) – (See images below)
DESCRIPTION: The Marbled Godwit is a shorebird. Breeding adult has brown and cinnamon upper parts in a ‘marbled’ fashion. Under parts are light beige with fine brown barring. Long, fine, and slightly curved upward bill is almost three times as long as head, is pink-orange at the base and grey near the tip. Eyes are dark. Legs are long and grey. Non-breeding adult and juvenile have plain under parts. Bird length is around 44 cm (17 inches). There are two subspecies.
NAME: ‘Godwit’ might be an onomatopoeia for the bird’s call. ‘Marbled’ refers to this bird’s plumage. Latin genus name ‘Limosa’ means ‘mud’, in reference to the bird habitat. Latin species name ‘fedoa’ would have its origin from a now lost Old English name for that bird.
HABITAT: Marshes, mudflats, grassy areas, flood plains, beaches.
DIET: Probes in sand and mud for invertebrates – worms, crustaceans, insects, snails, also prey on small fish.
NESTING: Nest is a shallow depression on the ground, may be far from water. Around four light green eggs are laid, incubated by both parents. Chicks can feed themselves soon after hatching, but cared for by parents.
DISTRIBUTION: Breeding range includes Prairie region in Canada and the USA. Winters along the coasts of western USA, Mexico, and southeast USA. Some individuals have been observed as far as Hawaii. (See note below for information on bird vagrancy.)
Distribution Map:
ON PEI: Does not breed on Prince Edward Island, sightings listed as ‘accidental’ so far. See note below on bird vagrancy.
CONSERVATION: Currently not considered at risk, but habitat loss to farmland would be a concern.
NOTES: On their wintering grounds these birds form mixed flocks with other shorebirds.
Vagrancy: In biology this means an animal going way outside its normal range. For birds, this can happen when there are storms and they get blown off course. On other times, the bird simply wanders in a different direction than usual. Here’s an article about vagrancy in birds.
SIMILAR SPECIES: Hudsonian Godwit, Black-tailed Godwit
REFERENCES: (Montana Field Guide) (University of Michigan) (Manitoba Breeding Bird Atlas)

Marbled Godwit – Apr. 2007 – photo by Faucon
Marbled godwit, photo by Faucon
Marbled Godwit in flight – Huntington Beach, CA – Dec. 2006 – photo by Alan D. Wilson
Marbled godwit, CA, by Alan D. Wilson
Marbled Godwits sleeping – Balboa Peninsula, CA – Dec. 2017 – photo by Eekim
Marbled godwits sleeping, CA, by Eekim