[order] Charadriiformes | [family] Scolopacidae | [latin] Limosa haemastica | [UK] Hudsonian Godwit | [FR] Barge hudsonienne | [DE] Hudsonschnepfe | [ES] Aguja Café | [IT] Pittima di Hudson | [NL] Rode Grutto

Rode Grutto determination

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Large shorebird. Long, slightly upturned bill with dark tip and reddish base. Long legs. Black wing linings. White stripe in wings. White rump. Tail black with white base. Breeding plumage with dark reddish chest and black barring on sides. Nonbreeding plumage gray all over. Sexes are similar, but male smaller and with darker underparts when in breeding plumage.

The nesting habitat of the Hudsonian Godwit is fairly typical of boreal shorebirds. In most locations, it nests in areas of mixed forest and wetland, particularly sedge meadows and boggy muskeg surrounded by coniferous forest. Scattered trees, small ponds, hummocks, and wet meadows are usually present. Occasionally, it nests in dwarf shrub meadows and some distance from water. Coastal populations commute daily to forage in salt marshes and on tidal mudflats. At other times of the year, Hudsonian Godwits use a wide variety of wetland and some upland habitats, including estuaries, mudflats, fresh and salt marshes, lakes, sandy beaches, wet rice fields, sewage lagoons, salt ponds, mangrove swamps, and sand spits. The bulk of the population feeds on tidal mudflats of large bays in winter, roosting on small islands and floating vegetation and in grassy fields.

Never common, the Hudsonian Godwit was for many years hunted for food and became scarce. Now completely protected, it has increased in number considerably. It is still considered a rarity, however, because during migration to and from the Southern Hemisphere the Hudsonian Godwit engages in long flights, traveling nonstop between James Bay, Canada, and the Gulf Coast, and thus bypassing most birders. On the coastal mudflats of the northeastern states, this large shorebird can be seen in flocks of up to several dozen during fall passage.

The Hudsonian Godwit’s dietary habits show some seasonal variation. During most of the year, invertebrates comprise essentially all of the diet. Prey taken include flies, beetles, snails, mollusks, amphipods, crabs, clams, and worms. Crowberries have been reported as a food item on the breeding grounds. During migration, when carbohydrates may be more important than protein, plant tubers, especially those of sago pondweed, represent a significant portion of the diet. Undigested seeds also have been found in the anterior portions of the gastrointestinal tracts of migrating birds; these may have been ingested to help grind other foods in the gizzard. Most food is obtained by probing with the long bill, which can be opened at the tip to grasp food. Gleaning from vegetation, mud, and the water surface is also a frequent means of food acquisition.

This species has a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 180,000 km². It has a large global population estimated to be 50,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2002). Global population trends have not been quantified, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern. [conservation status from birdlife.org]

The breeding range of the Hudsonian Godwit is perhaps best described as enigmatic. Known breeding sites are widely scattered across boreal and arctic North America, including Kotzebue and Nome Sounds, the Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers, and Cook Inlet in Alaska; Chilkat Pass in British Columbia; the Churchill delta in Manitoba; the western Hudson Bay coast in Ontario; and the Mackenzie and Anderson deltas and Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories. Numerous sightings of birds elsewhere in Alaska and Canada during the breeding season, combined with the fact that known nesting areas support only a small portion of the known total population, indicate that most nesting areas remain undiscovered. It is likely that the species nests in small, scattered clusters throughout the vast expanse of suitable habitat in the region and that nesting sites may shift from year to year. It is believed that over 80% of the world’s population nests in the boreal region. Breeding populations are quite distinct genetically but show no obvious external differences and only a single subspecies is recognized. Little is known of the species’ breeding ecology. Monogamous pairs form on the breeding grounds through a courtship process of display flights. A simple nest depression is formed, probably by the male, in a mound of moss or other soft vegetation on a dry hummock, often under a dwarf birch. Apparently, both sexes incubate the two to four eggs for 31?2 weeks. Both parents brood and guard the precocial chicks until they fledge, in just under four weeks.

Long distance migrant. During late Aug, much of population gathers along S Hudson Bay and James Bay and at certain sites in Saskatchewan and Alberta; crosses W Atlantic and arrives at unknown locations in N South America and stages at Amazon basin, then possibly passes through W Brazil on way to S Argentina; apparently young depart after adults. Birds wintering around Chilo? I may originate from Alaska, and follow different route. N migration probably very rapid, using few or no staging sites in South America; passage through USA more westerly, with many birds crossing Great Plains, Apr-May; rarely on Pacific coast of Guatemala and Costa Rica. Many wintering sites are Tierra del Fuego and areas around Chilo? I in SC Chile.