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Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica

This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Taxonomic source(s)
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: _the_WP15.xls.
AOU. 1998. Check-list of North American birds. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.
Christidis, L.; Boles, W. E. 1994. The taxonomy and species of birds of Australia and its territories. Royal Australasian Ornithologists' Union, Melbourne.
Christidis, L.; Boles, W. E. 2008. Systematics and taxonomy of Australian birds. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Australia.
Cramp, S.; Perrins, C. M. 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Dowsett, R. J.; Forbes-Watson, A. D. 1993. Checklist of birds of the Afrotropical and Malagasy regions. Tauraco Press, Li
SACC. 2006. A classification of the bird species of South America. Available at:
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.
Stotz, D. F.; Fitzpatrick, J. W.; Parker, T. A.; Moskovits, D. K. 1996. Neotropical birds: ecology and conservation. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
Turbott, E. G. 1990. Checklist of the birds of New Zealand. Ornithological Society of New Zealand, Wellington.

Population justification
The global population is estimated to number c.1,100,000-1,200,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2006), while national population estimates include: < c.10,000 individuals on migration and c.50-1,000 wintering individuals in China; c.50-1,000 individuals on migration and c.50-1,000 wintering individuals in Taiwan and c.10,000-100,000 breeding pairs and c.1,000-10,000 individuals on migration in Russia (Brazil 2009).

Trend justification
The overall population trend is decreasing, although some populations may be stable and others have unknown trends (Wetlands International 2006).

Behaviour This species is a full long-distance migrant (del Hoyo et al. 1996). It breeds from late-May to August (Hayman et al. 1986) in solitary pairs (del Hoyo et al. 1996), although it may also form small colonies (Flint et al. 1984). After breeding adults disperse to coastal moulting sites, the onward migration to wintering grounds then continuing into October and November (Hayman et al. 1986). The species often flies in large flocks (Hayman et al. 1986) and forages in groups outside of the breeding season (del Hoyo et al. 1996), occasionally aggregating into huge flocks of several hundreds of thousands of individuals at favoured sites (e.g. in Mauritania) (Hayman et al. 1986). Habitat Breeding The species breeds in marshy, swampy areas in lowland moss and shrub tundra (Johnsgard 1981, Flint et al. 1984, del Hoyo et al. 1996) near wet river valleys (Johnsgard 1981), lakes and sedge bogs (Flint et al. 1984), as well as on swampy heathlands in the willow and birch zone near the Arctic treeline (Johnsgard 1981), in open larch Larix spp. woodland close to water (del Hoyo et al. 1996), and occasionally on open bogs in the extreme north of the coniferous forest zone (Johnsgard 1981). Non-breeding On passage the species may frequent inland wetlands (Hayman et al. 1986), sandy beaches with pine Pinus spp. stands, swampy lowlands near lakes (Flint et al. 1984) and short-grass meadows, but during the winter it is more common in intertidal areas along muddy coastlines, estuaries, inlets, mangrove-fringed lagoons and sheltered bays (del Hoyo et al. 1996) with tidal mudflats or sandbars (Johnsgard 1981). Diet Breeding When breeding the species feeds on insects, annelid worms, molluscsand occasionally seeds and berries (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Non-breeding In intertidal areas the species's diet consists of annelids (e.g. Nereis spp. and Arenicola spp.), bivalves and crustaceans, although it will also take cranefly larvae and earthworms on grasslands and occasionally larval amphibians (tadpoles) and small fish (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Breeding site The nest is a depression positioned on a dry elevated site (del Hoyo et al. 1996) such as a tundra ridge (Johnsgard 1981) or hummock (Flint et al. 1984), often between clumps of grass (del Hoyo et al. 1996) or under a thicket (Flint et al. 1984). Management information In the UK there is evidence that the removal of Spartina anglica from tidal mudflats using a herbicide is beneficial for the species (Evans 1986).

The species is threatened by the degradation of foraging sites due to land reclamation, pollution, human disturbance (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Kelin and Qiang 2006), reduced river flows (Kelin and Qiang 2006) and in some areas the invasion of mudflats and coastal saltmarshes by mangroves (owing to sea-level rise and increased sedimentation and nutrient loads at the coast from uncontrolled development and soil erosion in upstream catchment areas) (Straw and Saintilan 2006). The species is also susceptible to avian influenza so may be threatened by future outbreaks of the virus (Melville and Shortridge 2006).

Related state of the world's birds case studies

Brazil, M. 2009. Birds of East Asia: eastern China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, eastern Russia. Christopher Helm, London.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. 1996. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 3: Hoatzin to Auks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Delany, S.; Scott, D. 2006. Waterbird population estimates. Wetlands International, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Evans, P. R. 1986. Use of the Herbicide 'Dalapon' for Control of Spartina Encroaching on Intertidal Mudflats: Beneficial Effects on Shorebirds. Colonial Waterbirds 9(1): 171-175.

Flint, V. E.; Boehme, R. L.; Kostin, Y. V.; Kuznetsov, A. A. 1984. A field guide to birds of the USSR. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.

Hayman, P.; Marchant, J.; Prater, A. J. 1986. Shorebirds. Croom Helm, London.

Johnsgard, P. A. 1981. The plovers, sandpipers and snipes of the world. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, U.S.A. and London.

Kelin, C.; Qiang, X. 2006. Conserving migratory shorebirds in the Yellow Sea region. In: Boere, G.; Galbraith, C., Stroud, D. (ed.), Waterbirds around the world, pp. 319. The Stationery Office, Edinburgh, UK.

Melville, D. S.; Shortridge, K. F. 2006. Migratory waterbirds and avian influenza in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway with particular reference to the 2003-2004 H5N1 outbreak. In: Boere, G.; Galbraith, C., Stroud, D. (ed.), Waterbirds around the world, pp. 432-438. The Stationary Office, Edinburgh, UK.

Straw, P.; Saintilan, N. 2006. Loss of shorebird habitat as a result of mangrove incursion due to sea-level rise and urbanization. In: Boere, G.; Galbraith, C., Stroud, D. (ed.), Waterbirds around the world, pp. 717-720. The Stationary Office, Edinburgh, UK.

Vahatalo, A. V.; Rainio, K.; Lehikoinen, A.; Lehikoinen, E. 2004. Spring arrival of birds depends on the North Atlantic Oscillation. Journal of Avian Biology 35: 210-216.

Further web sources of information
Detailed species account from Birds in Europe: population estimates, trends and conservation status (BirdLife International 2004)

Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S., Malpas, L.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Limosa lapponica. Downloaded from on 23/07/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 23/07/2014.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Bar-tailed godwit (Limosa lapponica) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and allies)
Species name author (Linnaeus, 1758)
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 1,470,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species