What does it look like?
Hudsonian Godwit is very similar in appearance to the more common Marbled Godwit. The two species can be seen at the same time during spring migration. Knowing how to differentiate the two species during this time is the key to spotting them! Hudsonian Godwits are smaller than Marbled Godwits, have a distinct white rump patch, and rufous belly and breast with heavy barring. Marbled Godwits, by comparison are large, uniformly light brown with barring, and no rufous colouration on the body. The Hudsonian and Marbled Godwit can be differentiated from other large shorebirds by their long, upturned bill which transitions from orange to black at the tip.
Does it migrate?
Yes!... Hudsonian Godwit is migratory, with eastern populations breeding in tundra habitats along the western coastline of the Hudson’s Bay in Manitoba and Ontario. In the west, isolated populations can be found breeding in Alaska, British Columbia, and the Northwest Territories. In the fall, Hudsonian Godwit migrate across North America to overwintering grounds in South America.
Where does it live?
During breeding season, Hudsonian Godwit can be found nesting in tundra habitats near waterbodies, such as shorelines, coastlines, and estuaries. Outside of the breeding season, this species can be found foraging for food at shallow waterbodies.
Where can I see it?
In southern Manitoba, Hudsonian Godwit are seen in small numbers during spring migration in May. Watch for this species along the shorelines of shallow wetlands and flooded agricultural fields. Common stop-over locations for resting and foraging are at Oak Hammock Marsh IBA; North, West, and East Shoal Lakes IBA; Delta Marsh IBA; and Whitewater Lake IBA.
In northern Manitoba, Hudsonian Godwit can be found at breeding grounds along the coastal areas of the Hudson Bay. A trip to Churchill is required if you wish to view this species calling from a tree on its breeding grounds. In fall, the Hudsonian Godwit heads east along the Hudson Bay coastline towards James Bay, with lower numbers being encountered in southern Manitoba. That said, it is possible to find large concentrations along the Hudson Bay coastline. For example, 1,275 have previously been counted in the Nelson River Estuary & Marsh Point IBA.
Hudsonian Godwit is currently listed on the 2016 State of North America’s Birds Watchlist. This report lists species which are at risk of extinction if measures are not taken to improve conservation. The Hudsonian Godwit has been protected under the Migratory Bird Convention Act since 1927, however hunting may still occur in South America (Bird of North America). This species is vulnerable to extinction because of its small global population and small, fragmented breeding ranges. Impacts to habitat at breeding grounds are currently thought to be a conservation concern. These impacts include oil and gas development in the west, and the overgrazing of tundra habitats from increasing snow geese and Canada geese in the east.