Hudsonian Godwit Limosa haemastica Scientific name definitions

Brad M. Walker, Nathan R. Senner, Chris S. Elphick, and Joanna Klima
Version: 1.0 — Published March 4, 2020
Text last updated October 21, 2011



Breeding Range

Figure 1. Scattered breeding locations from w. Alaska to Hudson Bay, although extent of current range is poorly known because knowledge is based largely on old records and many areas remain to be surveyed. Although these problems apply to many arctic nesting species, the small and disjunct range of the Hudsonian Godwit makes it especially difficult to extrapolate with confidence.

In s.-central Alaska, breeding confirmed (i.e., nests or flightless young found) at several sites around upper Cook Inlet, from w. Kenai Peninsula to Susitna Flats (Williamson and Smith 1964, Kessel and Gibson 1978, L. Tibbitts unpubl.). In w. Alaska, breeding confirmed from St. Mary's area (G. Peltola pers. comm.) and Koyukuk River floodplain between Galena and Huslia (M. Spindler pers. comm.); breeding almost certainly occurs at numerous sites on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta (McCaffery and Harwood 2000); probably breeds at Innoko National Wildlife Refuge (NWR; B. Skinner pers. comm.) and in other areas east of Kotzebue Sound and Norton Sound (e.g., Selawik NWR [G. Peltola pers. comm.], Kotzebue area [T. J. Doyle pers. comm.]); possibly also on Seward Peninsula and south shore of Norton Sound (Kessel and Gibson 1978, Kessel 1989). Recently has been found to breed in northcentral Alaska in Kanuti NWR—well away from either marine or major riverine habitats—where both nests and flightless young have been found (Harwood and Senner unpubl. data). Occurs annually in very small numbers elsewhere inland in Alaska during spring and less than annually in summer; very rare in n. Alaska during summer and fall, and no evidence of breeding (Kessel and Gibson 1978, T. J. Doyle pers. comm.).

Main breeding area in w. Canada appears to be along far northwestern shore of Northwest Territories, with breeding records from Mackenzie River delta and Anderson River valley; also breeds on West Mirage Is. in Great Slave Lake (Godfrey 1986). Found during summer in other parts of Northwest and Nunavut Territories, suggesting that additional breeding sites exist (MacFarlane 1891, Bent 1927, Trauger and Bromley 1976, Kuyt 1980, Salter et al. 1980a). No evidence of breeding in Yukon, but small numbers seen in north during Jun (Sinclair et al. 2003). In n. British Columbia, tiny population breeds in Chilkat Pass area (Campbell et al. 1990a), with only a single pair during late 1990s (W. Campbell pers. comm.).

In e. Canada, breeding known from several sites along shore of Hudson Bay: in Manitoba, from the Churchill area (Taverner and Sutton 1934, Jehl and Smith 1970, Cooke et al. 1975b) and in Ontario, from the Cape Henrietta Maria region (Peck 1972, Peck and James 1983, Morrison 1987a). Other reports of birds during summer, primarily involving displaying adults, suggest that breeding occurs elsewhere along Hudson Bay coast; possibly also on Akimiski I. in James Bay (Schueler et al. 1974, Godfrey 1986, Morrison 1987a).

Winter Range

Largely restricted to pampas marshes and coastal mudflats of s. South America. Over half the world's population, represented almost entirely by the eastern breeding population, winters along the Atlantic coast. In the north, wintering birds are split between three main locations in the Buenos Aires province of Argentina: Punta Rasa, Laguna Mar Chiquita, and Bahía Blanca. Southerly concentrations are found in Tierra del Fuego, primarily at Bahía San Sebastián, Argentina and Bahía Lomas, Chile (Yorio 1998).

A second major concentration, consisting largely of Alaskan breeders, is found in coastal Chile, on and adjacent to Chiloé Island. This concentration represents 99% of the Pacific coast population and occurs within 16 individual bays that each support at least 1% of the population.. Smaller numbers winter as far north as s. Brazil on the Atlantic coast and n. Peru on Pacific coast (Lara Resende 1988, Morrison and Ross 1989a, Blanco et al. 1995, Minton et al. 1996, Botto et al. 1998, Senner 2006).

Majority of sites where seen during winter are along the coast (Blanco et al. 1995), but this may reflect sampling bias. Inland, found in small numbers on upland plateaus of Patagonia steppe, occasionally north to Paraguay (Meyer De Schauensee 1970, Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990); flocks of up to 350 individuals have been seen in nw. Argentina (Laredo 1996). Has also occurred in small numbers on the Falkland Is. (Hudson 1920, Wetmore 1927b).

Extralimital Records

In Pacific, regular but rare visitor in small numbers to New Zealand (1 or 2/yr; T. Crocker pers. comm.); vagrant in Australia, Fiji, Norfolk I., Marshall Is., and Hawaiian Is. (Higgins and Davies 1996, American Ornithologists' Union 1998a). In Europe, recorded in Britain and Denmark; British records from various times of the year, but all may have referred to a single individual (Alström and Colston 1991). Several reports from South Africa, also possibly all relating to one bird (Hockey 1997b).

Historical Changes to the Distribution

Historical changes in population difficult to assess because major breeding, wintering, and staging sites are all in remote areas, many discovered only in latter half of twentieth century. Few Alaskan records in early 1900s may indicate a decline at that time, but may also reflect normal fluctuations of an uncommon and sparsely distributed species (Williamson and Smith 1964). Earlier data are scarce, but indicate higher numbers at Kotzebue Sound, AK (Williamson and Smith 1964) and on southern coast of Hudson Bay (Hearne 1796) than nowadays.

Distribution of the Hudsonian Godwit - Range Map
  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding
Distribution of the Hudsonian Godwit
Hudsonian Godwit, Abundance map
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Hudsonian Godwit

Limosa haemastica


Relative abundance is depicted for each season along a color gradient from a light color indicating lower relative abundance to a dark color indicating a higher relative abundance. Relative abundance is the estimated average count of individuals detected by an eBirder during a 1 hour, 1 kilometer traveling checklist at the optimal time of day for each species.   Learn more about this data

Relative abundance
Breeding season
Jun 14 - Jun 14
Non-breeding season
Dec 6 - Mar 29
Pre-breeding migratory season
Apr 5 - Jun 7
Post-breeding migratory season
Aug 2 - Nov 29
Note: Seasonal ranges overlap and are stacked in the order above; view full range in season maps.
Seasons timeline
Learn more about seasons

Recommended Citation

Walker, B. M., N. R. Senner, C. S. Elphick, and J. Klima (2020). Hudsonian Godwit (Limosa haemastica), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (A. F. Poole, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.hudgod.01