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Marbled Godwit

Named after their distinctive marbled plumage, these birds can be spotted near most shorelines in the United States.

The Marbled Godwit is a large shorebird that divides its time between grasslands during the breeding season and coastlines during the winter. Marbled Godwits are capable of swimming, but spend most of their time walking or running. During the breeding season, they sometimes use high perches such as telephone poles.

Adult Marbled Godwits migrate earlier in the fall than juveniles. They frequently return to the same breeding and wintering areas in subsequent years. The oldest known Marbled Godwit in the wild lived over 29 years.


Description of the Marbled Godwit


The Marbled Godwit is a large shorebird with a long, upcurved bill that is pinkish-orange at the base and black at the tip. Its plumage is reddish-brown with black mottling on the upperparts. Black barring on the underparts.  Length: 18 in.  Wingspan: 30 in.


Sexes similar.

Seasonal change in appearance

Black barring much reduced in winter.


Juveniles resemble winter adults.


Prairies and mudflats.

Marbled Godwit

Photograph © Greg Lavaty.


Insects, mollusks, and crustaceans.


Forages by probing water or mud with its long bill.


Breeds in the north central U.S. and south-central Canada and winters along coastal areas of the U.S.

More information:

Bent Life History

Visit the Bent Life History for extensive additional information on the Marbled Godwit.


Fun Facts

Incubating Marbled Godwits are so reluctant to flush that they can sometimes be approached and picked up.

Males perform high flight displays early in the breeding season.


Loud, two-syllable or barking calls are given.


Similar Species


The nest is a grass-lined depression.

Number: 4. ?
Color: Greenish with darker markings.

Incubation and fledging:
– Young hatch at 21-23 days.
– Young fledge (leave the nest) shortly after hatching but remain with the adults for some time.


Bent Life History of the Marbled Godwit

Published by the Smithsonian Institution between the 1920s and the 1950s, the Bent life history series of monographs provide an often colorful description of the birds of North America. Arthur Cleveland Bent was the lead author for the series. The Bent series is a great resource and often includes quotes from early American Ornithologists, including Audubon, Townsend, Wilson, Sutton and many others.

Bent Life History for the Marbled Godwit – the common name and sub-species reflect the nomenclature in use at the time the description was written.


Next to the long-billed curlew and the oyster catchers, this is the largest of our shore birds. For that reason and for other reasons it is rapidly disappearing, and before many years it may join the ranks of those that are gone but not forgotten. Although shy at times, it is often foolishly tame and is then easily slaughtered. It is large enough to appeal to the sportsman as legitimate game and it makes a plump and toothsome morsel for the table. But, worst of all, its breeding grounds on the prairies and meadows of the central plains are becoming more and more restricted by the encroachments of agriculture; the wide-open solitudes will soon be only memories of the past.

In Audubon’s (1840) time this was an abundant species and much more widely distributed than it is to-day. He writes:

On the 31st of May, 1832, I saw an immense number of these birds on an extensive mud bar bordering one of the Keys of Florida, about 6 miles south of Cape Sable. When I landed with my party the whole, amounting to some thousands, collected In the manner mentioned above. Four or five guns were fired at once, and the slaughter was such that I was quite satisfied with the number obtained, both for specimens and for food. For this reason we refrained from firing at them again, although the temptation was at times great, as they flew over and wheeled round us for awhile, until at length they alighted at some distance and began to feed.

The marbled godwit is a rare bird in Florida to-day; I saw only one during the five months of my last winter on the west coast. It was formerly abundant as a migrant on the Atlantic coast from New England southward, where now it is merely a straggler. It is still fairly common on the Pacific coast, where probably most of the birds now go. Even in Minnesota, close to its present breeding grounds, it has decreased enormously. Dr. Thomas S. Roberts (1919) writes:

When the writer, In company with Franklin Benner, went to Grant and Traverse Counties in June, 1879, to study the wild li~~e of that region, the great marbled godwit was so abundant, so constant and insistent in its attentions to the traveler on the prairie, and so noisy that it became at times an actual nuisance. They were continually hovering about the team, perfectly fearless and nearly deafening us with their loud, harsh cries: ” go-wit, go-wit.” On getting out of the wagon to search for their nests, the birds became fairly frantic until we were fain to stop our cars to shut out the din. Now and then the birds would all disappear and peace would ensue for a brief period, but they had only retired to muster their forces anew, for shortly a great company would bear down upon us, flying low over the prairie, and spread out in wide array, all the birds silent, until, when almost upon us, they swerved suddenly upward over our heads and broke out again In a wild, discordant clamor. Once I counted 50 birds In one of these charging companies. This, to us, novel experience, went on from day to day in various places and has left a vivid impression that can never be effaced. Happenings of this sort have long since become things of the past In Minnesota. The godwits gradually disappeared before conditions associated with the advance of man into their domain until’ now it is doubtful that more than an occasional pair remains to nest in some remote part of the State.

The godwits have always been favorites with me and in my early days I had always longed to see them. The opportunity came at last when I visited North Dakota in 1901. We had been collecting for several days in some extensive sloughs bordering a large lake in Steele County, which we found exceedingly rich in bird life, when on June 12 I first made the acquaintance of this magnificent wader. The beautiful Wilson’s phalaropes were flitting about among the tussocks, and it was while hunting for their nests that we noticed, among the numerous noisy kilideers and western willets flying over us, a strange hoarse note, strikingly different from either, as a large brown bird flew past, which we recognized as a godwit. All doubts were soon dispelled by collecting my first specimen of a species I had often longed to see, and I could not help pausing to examine and admire the beautiful markings of its richly colored wings. We saw only four of these birds that day, but on the following day they became more abundant. There were about 20 of them flying about over the meadows, showing considerable concern at our presence, constantly uttering their peculiar cries, and showing so little regard for their own safety that we were led to infer that they were breeding or intending to breed in that vicinity. We spent some time looking for their nests, but as we knew practically nothing about their nesting habits at that time, we were not successful in locating any nests.

Spring: I can not find that the marbled godwit was ever common on the Atlantic coast north of Florida in the spring. It still migrates northward along the Pacific coast, mainly in April; D. E. Brown has seen it at Gray’s Harbor, Washington, as early as April 9. The main migration route seems to be up the Mississippi Valley, mainly in April; it has been recorded in southern Saskatchewan as early as April 16.

Nesting: In southwestern Saskatchewan, in 1905 and 1906, I became better acquainted with the marbled godwit on its breeding grounds. Along the lower courses of the streams, near the lakes, but sometimes extending for a mile or more back from the lake, are usually found broad, flat, alluvial plains, low enough to be flooded during periods of high water. These plains are more or less moist at all times, are exceedingly level, and are covered with short, thick grass only a few inches high. Such spots are the chosen breeding grounds of the marbled godwit, and, so far as our experience goes, the nests of this species are invariably placed on these grassy plains or meadows.

The godwit makes no attempt at concealment, the eggs being deposited in plain sight in a slight hollow in the short grass. We found, in all, four nests of this species with eggs, had two sets of eggs brought to us by ranchmen, and found two broods of young. The first nest was discovered on May 29, 1905. We had been hunting the shores of a large alkaline lake, where a colony of avocets were breeding on the mud flats near the outlet of a deep, sluggish stream, and it was while following along the banks of this stream, as it wound its devious course down through a series of broad, flat meadows, that I flushed a godwit out of the short grass only a few yards from the stream and about 100 yards from the lake. On investigation I found that she had flown from her nest, merely a slight hollow in the grass lined with dry grass, which had, apparently, been simply trodden down where it grew, without the addition of any new material brought in by the birds. Only two eggs had been laid, so we marked the spot for future reference and retired. On June 5 this nest was photographed, and the four eggs which it then contained were collected.

While driving across a low, wet meadow, toward a reedy lake, on June 8, 1905, and when about 200 yards from the lake, we were surprised to see a marbled godwit flutter out from directly under the horse, which was trotting along at a leisurely pace. We stopped as soon as possible and found that we had driven directly over its nest, which barely escaped destruction, for it lay between the wheel ruts and the horse’s footprints, one of which was within a few inches of it. The nest was in every way similar to the first one, the bird having beaten down the short grass to form a slight hollow in which the four handsome eggs had been laid in plain sight.

On June 9, 1906, we visited the locality where the first nest was found, and I enjoyed a most interesting experience with an unusually tame individual of this normally shy species. While walking across the fiat meadow near the creek, I happened to see a marbled godwit crouching on her nest beside a pile of horse droppings. She was conspicuous enough in spite of her protective coloration, for the nest was entirely devoid of concealment in the short grass. Though we stood within 10 feet of her, she showed no signs of flying away, which suggested the possibility of photographing her. My camera was half a mile away in our wagon, but I soon returned with it and began operations at a distance of 15 feet, setting up the camera on the tripod and focussing carefully. I moved up cautiously to within 10 feet and took another picture, repeating the performance again within 5 feet. She still sat like a rock, and I made bold to move still closer, spreading the legs of the tripod on either side of her and placing the camera within 3 feet of her; I hardly dared to breathe. moving very slowly as I used the focussing cloth, and changed my plate holders most cautiously; but shc never offered to move and showed not the slightest signs of fear, while I exposed all the plates I had with me, photographing her from both sides and placing the lens within 2 feet of her. She sat there patiently, panting in the hot sun, apparently distressed by the heat, perhaps partially dazed by it, and munch annoyed by the ants which were constantly crawling into her eyes and half open bill, causing her to wink or shake her head occasionally. I reached down carefully and stroked her on the back, but still she did not stir, and I was finally obliged to lift her off the nest in order to photograph the eggs.

Two nests found by Gerard A. Abbott. (1919) in Benson County, North Dakota, were evidently better concealed than the nests we found. He writes:

I was certainly surprised to discover my first godwit’s nest with the parent crouching beneath a little screen of woven grass blades on Thur heavily blotched eggs. Her general contour and the sitnalion and design of the nest was suggestive of many king rails whose nests I have found, after noticing how the grass blades were woven together canopy like to shield the bird and her treasures. About a mile from this nest and screened on one side by willow sprouts sat another tame godwit. This time the grassy hollow held five boldly marked eggs. Incubation was one-half completed and the date was June 8. These five eggs bear a general resemblance to each other and I believe they are all the product of the same bird.

Eggs: The marbled godwit lays four eggs regularly, very rarely three and still more rarely five. The eggs are ovate or ovate pyriform in shape, with a slight gloss. The ground colors usually run from “pale olive buff” to “deep olive buff,” in the greener types from “dark olive buff” to “ecru olive,” and in the brownest types to “Isabella color.” They are more or less sparingly and irregularly marked with small rounded spots, and with irregular, rarely elongated blotches; these are often thicker at the larger end, but seldom confluent. The markings are usually much more conspicuous than in other godwit’s eggs, but they are in dull browns, such as “Saccardo’s umber,” “warm sepia,” and “bister.” The underlying spots and blotches range in color from “pallid brownish drab” to “deep brownish drab.” Some of the greenish types are only faintly spotted with “light brownish olive.” One very handsome egg has a ” pale olive buff~~ ground color, conspicuously splashed and blotched with “pale Quaker drab,” overlaid with a few small blotches and scrawls of “Saccardo’s umber.” The measurements of 64 eggs average 57 by 39.6 millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes measure 61 by 40.5, 59.5 by 42.5, 51 by 38.5, and 53.7 by 37.7 millimeters.

Young: I have no data on the period of incubation and do not know whether both sexes incubate or not. The only incubating bird I collected was a female. Though we looked diligently for the young we did not succeed in finding any until June 27, 1906. We were driving across some extensive wet meadows, ideal breeding grounds for marbled godwits, when we saw a godwit, about a hundred yards ahead of us, leading two of its young across a shallow grassy pool; we drove toward them as fast as we could, but as we drew near the old bird took wing and the young separated, moving off into the grass in opposite directions. They had evidently been well schooled in the art of hiding and were well fitted by their protective coloring to escape notice, for, though we secured one of them readily enough while it was still running, the other disappeared entirely right before our eyes and within 10 yards of us. Its disappearance seemed almost miraculous, for there was practically nothing there to conceal it, as the grass was quite short, and there were no shrubs or herbaceous plants of any kind in the vicinity. We searched the whole locality carefully and thoroughly, but in vain. The youngster may have been crouching flat on the ground, relyitig on its resemblance to its surroundings, or it may have taken advantage of some slight inequalities in the ground and skulked away farther than we realized. Later in the day we found another pair of godwits, in a similar locality, with two young, one of which we secured. The young were in the downy stage, and apparently not over a week old. They showed unmistakable godwit characters, particularly in the shape of the head and bill, and the long legs and neck.

Plumages: The downy young marbled godwit is in dull colors. The upper parts, including the posterior half of the crown. back rump, and wings are ” bone brown” or “light seal brown,” variegated on the back and rump with pale buff or grayish-white. The under parts, including the forehead, sides of the head, and neck, are ” pinkish-buff,” deepest on the neck and flanks, almost white on the belly and head and pure white on the chin and cheeks. There is a narrow loral stripe, extending not quite to the eye, a spot behind the ear, and a short stripe in the middle of the lower forehead of blackishbrown. The shape of the head and bill is characteristic of the species.

The cinnamon juvenal plumage begins to appear on the flanks at an early stage and its development is rapid. Before the end of July the young bird is fully fledged and able to fly. The fresh juvdnal plumage is much like that of the adult in winter; but the throat and the sides of the head and neck are plain cinnamon without dusky streaks; the feathers of the back and scapulars are more broadly edged or notched, with brighter cinnamon; the greater and median wing coverts are much more broadly bordered with or more extensively cinnamon; the greater coverts are almost clear cinnamon, with very few dusky markings; and the tail is more broadly barred with dusky.

Apparently only a very limited amount of molt takes place during the first year. I have seen birds in juvenal or first winter plumage in November, January, and May, though the last two may be exceptional cases. Perhaps some young birds assume the adult plumage at the first prenuptial molt, but certainly not later than the first postnuptial. More material is necessary to settle this point.

Adults have a complete postnuptial molt beginning in July and lasting well into the fall. This produces the winter plumage in which the breast is immaculate cinnamon and there is little, if any, barring on the flanks. At the prenuptial molt in February and March the body plumage, or most of it, and the tail are molted.

Food: Doctor Roberts (1919) says of the feeding habits of the marbled godwit:

With their long, up-curved bills they probe the shallow weter of sloughs and lake shores for aquatic insects and mollusks and also spend much of their time on meadows and low-lying prairies, where they devour grasshoppers and other Insects of many kinds. These big birds, when they were as abundant as they once were, must have been an important factor in keeping in check the dangerous insect hordes of our State. But they, with others of their kind, are gone and man Is left to fight conditions as he must with agencies of his own devising, less efficient, perhaps, than those provided by nature.

Audubon (1840) says: “While feeding on the banks, it appears to search for food between and under the oysters with singular care, at times pushing the bill sidewise into the soft mud beneath the shells.” The sand beaches of California are favorite feeding grounds, where I have seen it associated with the long-billed curlew. I was interested to see with what dexterity these long-billed birds could pick up a small mollusk and swallow it; I could plainly see the small object gradually travel up the long bill and into the mouth of the bird. Other observers have recorded in the food of this godwit snails, crustaceans, insects and their larvae, worms, and leeches.

Behavior: The flight of the marbled godwit is strong, rather swift and direct; the head is usually drawn in somewhat, the bill pointed straight forward, and the feet stretched out behind. Audubon (1840) says: “When flying to a considerable distance, or migrating, they usually proceed in extended lines, presenting an irregular front, which rarely preserves its continuity for any length of time, but undulates and breaks as the birds advance.” Mrs. Florence M. Bailey (1916) writes:

In flight they often made a close flock, calling queep, queep, queep, queep, queep, affording a beautiful sight as the light struck them and warmed up the cinnamon wings that make such a good recognition mark. They soared down handsomely, showing the cinnamon, and as they alighted held their wings straight over their backs for a moment, the black shoulder straps showing in strong contract to the warm cinnamon.

Though the flocks were generally most amicable, occasionally one or two of their number would get to scrapping. Two got hold of each other’s bills one day and held on, one or both crying lustily. In a group another day two came to blows, first Just opening their bills at each other and talking argumentatively. Later one of them made passes at the other till the harried bird lifted his wings as If meditating escape, and finally when a pass was made at Jais long unprotected legs, flew away. When one was teased by a companion it often cried compialningly, go-way, go-way, go-wall, go-wait.

It was amusing to watch the birds feed. As a wave rolled up, combed over and broke, the white foam would chase them in, and as they ran before it, if it came on too fast, they would pick themselves up, open their wings tin the cinnamon showed, and scoot in like excited children. But the instant the water began to recede they would right abeut face and trot back with It, splashing It up so that you could see it glisten. As they went their long bills: In the low afternoon sun strikingly coral red except for the black tip: were shoved ahead of them, feeding along through the wet sand, the light glinting from them; and if anything good was discovered deeper, the hunters would stop to probe, sometimes plunging the bill in up to the hilt, on rare occasions when the tidbit proved out of reach, actually crowding their heads down into the sand.

Like all of the shore birds, the marbled godwit is exceedingly demonstrative on its breeding grounds, flying out to meet the intruder as soon as he appears. making fully as much fuss at a distance from its nest as near it, and giving no clue as to its exact location. The cries of one pair of birds often attract others, and I have seen as many as eighteen birds flying about at one time in an especially favorable locality. It shows no signs of fear at such times, often alighting on the ground within ten or fifteen yards, standing for an instant with its beautifully marbled wings poised above it, a perfect picture of parental solicitude. Even while they were feeding on the shores of the lakes we could frequently walk up to within a few yards of them.

Hamilton M. Laing (1913), after describing how a snipe escaped from a duck hawk by diving into some rushes along a creek, tells of a similar trick played by a godwit, as follows:

In the second chase, the victim marked for death was a marbled godwit. Having often seen these birds swirling about at a dizzy pace and listened to the roar of their long knife wings as they smote the air in a playful descent, I felt assured that when the hawk started after them he would be very much outclassed. Yet in less than half a mile he was among them, had singled a victim and was stooping wickedly. Each time the godwit dodged, he emitted an angry or terrified cry, but the silent pursuer, with never a sign of fatigue, swooped and swooped and wore him down. Each ti,he now the hawk overshot his mark a little less in the turnings. The last resort of the godwit was exactly that of the other snipe, but the former being over the big slough, dropped into the water. I saw the hairbreadth escape and the splash, hut whether or not the godwit dived to get away, I could not tell. Some of the sandpipers can dive well, and probably the godwit escaped thus.

Voice: The marbled godwit has a great variety of striking and characteristic notes. Its ordinary call note, when only slightly disturbed, sounds like terw hit, terwkit, tcrwltit, or pert-wurrit, pertuntrrit, or godwit, godwit, godwit, from which its name is probably derived; these notes are all strongly accented on the last syllable, and are uttered almost constantly while the birds are flying about over their breeding grounds. When considerably alarmed these notes are intensified, more rapidly given, and with even more emphasis, kerweek, kerwee-cek, or kerreek, kreck, kreck, kerreek; sometimes they are prolonged into a loud, long-drawn-out scream quack, qua-a-ack, or quojek, quoi-i-ick, somewhat between the loudest quacking of an excited duck and the scream of a red-shouldered hawk. There is also a more musical, whistling note, less often heard, sounding like the syllables kor-koit or ker-kor-koit, korkoit, the accent being on the kor in each case; this note seems to indicate a more satisfied frame of mind and is much more subdued in tone. All of these notes are subject to great individual variation, and, as the godwits are very noisy birds, we were given ample opportunities to study them, but to write them down in a satisfactory manner is not so easy. P. A. Taverner (1926) writes: “Their loud exasperating eradica~ radica-radica-radica varied with Your-crazy-crazy-crazy and confirmed by Korect-korect sets all the prairie on the alert.”

John T. Nichols says in his notes:

A bird flying toward decoys gave a single nawbistled note, honk, likely the flight note of the species in migration. Alighted, It had a short, unlond note, a goose-like honk, especially when other shore birds flew past (Long Island, August). The few godwits of any species that I have seexi in migration have mostly been silont.

Field marks: The marbled godwit is so large and so well marked as a big brown bird that it is likely to be confused with only one other bird, the long-billed curle~v. It nearly equals the curlew in size, and the rich cinnamon color in the wings is conspicuous in both species, but the long, curved bill of the curlew serves to distinguish it, even at a considerable distance, and the notes of the two birds are quite different. At short range the shape of the head, the long, slightly upturned bill, pinkish buff on its basal third, and the bluish-gray legs are distinctive marks.

Fall: As soon as the breeding season is over, or even before all the broods are fledged, the marbled godwits begin to gather into flacks and become much more wary. Even as early as June 27, 1906, we saw as many as 36 birds in one flock, but as we did not see any young birds among them we inferred that these must have been birds whose eggs or young had been destroyed. As I have always had to leave for the East before the southward migration began I am unable to give any information on this subject from personal observation, but Dr. Louis B. Bishop has kindly placed at my disposal his notes relating to this movement.

At Stump Lake, North Dakota, in 1902, he noted on July 28 a flock of about 100 marbled godwits, chiefly adults, all that were taken being old birds; and on July 30 he saw a flock of about 50, which he assume(l to be composed chiefly of young birds, all that were taken being in juvenile plumage. At the same locality in 1905 he saw on July 26 a flock of about 40, both adults and young, all that were collected being young birds; on August 2, alt of these birds had disappeared. This exact locality, a sandy point at the western end of the lake, was visited only on the above dates. These birds were undoubtedly migrants, as they were not known to have bred in that vicinity.

After I had left Saskatchewan, Doctor Bishop visited the breeding grounds of the marbled godwits, and on July 3, 1906, found adult birds tolerably common, but they had all departed two days later. At Big Stick Lake, from July 18 to 21, 1906, he saw large flocks of adult godwits containing hundreds of birds, but on July 22 very few were left. He also writes that adults reach the North Carolina coast in the middle of July, as he has in his collection adults taken on July 11 and 27, 1904, and that young birds appear about a month later, as he has specimens taken August 10 and 19, 1904.

Evidently the godwits move off their breeding grounds as soon as the young are able to fly, those birds which have been unsuccessful in rearing their young being the first to leave, and forming the vanguard of the early migration in July. Probably most of the adults start on their southward migration before the end of July, and well in advance of the young, the later flight being composed almost entirely of young birds, and moving more deliberately.

The fall migration is or was very well marked and rather unique; many individuals formerly migrated almost due east from their breeding grounds in the interior to the Atlantic coast of New England. Others still continue to migrate westward to the Pacific coast and southward to the Gulf coast. All of the earlier writers indicate that this was an abundant migrant on the Atlantic coast from New England southward about the middle of the last century. The immense flocks which passed along our shores have been gradually disappearing until now only a few straggling birds are ever seen. Probably what comparatively few birds are left migrate to the Atlantic coast farther south or to the Gulf or Pacific coasts. Probably excessive shooting has driven them from their former haunts. They have always been popular with sportsmen and have been slaughtered unmercifully. They share with some other species the fatal habit, prompted by sympathy or curiosity, of circling back again and again over their fallen companions after a flock has been shot into, so that is is an easy matter for the gunners to kill them in large numbers.

Although it breeds and lives on the grassy meadows of the interior, the marbled godwit seems to prefer the seacoast on its migrations, frequenting more rarely the shores of large lakes. It is common as a migrant on the Pacific coast even as late as December, but it seems to be absent from California in January and February. Bradford Torrey (1913) says:

I have seen godwits and willets together lining the grassy edge of the fiats for a long distance, and so densely massed that I mistook them at first for a border of some kind of herbage. Thousands there must have been; and when they rose at my approach, they made something like a cloud; gray birds and brown birds so contrasted in color as to be discriminated beyond risk of error, even when too far away for the staring white wing patches of the willets to be longer discernible.

As a flock there was no getting near them; I proved the fact to my dissatisfaction more than once; but sitting quietly on the same bay shore I have repeatedly known a single godwit or willet to feed carelessly past me within the distance of a rod or two.

Winter: It is a comparatively short journey for this godwit to its winter home in the Gulf States and Central America. I have seen and collected a few godwits in Florida, but it is now impossible to see them in anything like the numbers mentioned by Audubon (1840) and Maynard (1896). The former says:

This fine bird Is found during winter on all the large muddy fiats of the coast of Florida that are Intermixed with beds of racoon oysters. As the tide rises It approaches the shores, and betakes itself to the wet savannahs. At this season It is generally seen in flocks of five or six, searching for food in company with the telltale, the yellow shanks, the long-billed curlew, and the white ibis.

The latter writes:

The marbled godwits are very common in the South in winter, but they are particularly abundant in Florida. Back of Amelia Island, just south of St. Marys River, thus lying just on the extreme northern confines of the State. are extensive fiats on which are pools that become partly dry during winter. These were the familiar resorts of the godwits, and flocks of hundreds would gather around them. They were quite wild while here, rising with deafening clamor when approached, but they had become so attached to the locality that they would merely circle about and alight on the borders of some neighboring pool. From this point, southward along the eastern coast as far as Merritts Island they were very numerous but were not common at Miami, and I did not see them on the Keys. On the west coast, however, they occurred in large numbers, especially on the muddy fiats about Cedar Keys. On Indian River I found the godwits very unsuspicious, in so much so that I have frequently killed them with dust shot.

Range: North and Central America. The range of the marbled godwit is now greatly restricted, the breeding areas being principally in North Dakota and central Saskatchewan and it is now extremely rare in winter anywhere on the Atlantic coast.

Breeding range: North to Alberta (probably Edmonton); Saskatchewan (Osler and Crescent Lake); Manitoba (Winnipeg); and Wisconsin (Iron County). East to Wisconsin (Iron County, Stoughton, and Lake Koshkonong); and Iowa (Newton). South to Iowa (Newton and probably Sioux City); South Dakota (Miner County and probably Huron); and Montana (Billings). West to Montana (Billings and Strater); and Alberta (Medicine Hat and probably Edmonton). It also has been detected in summer at Okanagan, British Columbia, Pelican Narrows, Saskatchewan, Moose Lake, Manitoba, and York Factory, Manitoba.

Winter range: North to Lower California (Magdalena Bay and La Paz); Sinaloa (Mazatlan); Oaxaca (Tehuantepec); western Yucatan; probably Texas (Corpus Christi); probably Louisiana; and Georgia ( Savannah). East to Georgia (Savannah and Darien); Florida (Amelia Island, Tarpon Springs, Fort Myers, and Miami); eastern Yucatan (Cozumel Island) ; and British Honduras (Belize). South to British Honduras (Belize); and Guatemala (Chiapam). West to Guatemala (Chiapam); probably Colima (Manzanillo); and Lower California (Magdalena Bay). Marbled godwits formerly wintered north to southeastern South Carolina (Frogmore) and they are casual at this season in southern California (San Diego, Lake Elsinore, La Jolla, and Humboldt. Bay).

Spring migration: Early dates of arrival are: Missouri, St. Louis, April 13, Boonville, April 16, and Corning, April 18; Illinois, Warsaw, April 2, Calumet, April 4, and Rockford, April 8; Ohio, Lakeside, April 20, and Columbus, April 21; Michigan, Ann Arbor, May 5; Iowa, Emmetsburg, April 21, and Gilbert Station, April 23; Minnesota, Heron Lake, April 8, Wilder, April 19, and Goodhue, April 20; Nebraska, Lincoln, April 18; North Dakota, Bismarek, April 30, Jamestown, May 1, and Harrisburg, May 5; Manitoba, Oak Lake, April 25, Reaburn, May 2, Margaret, May 7, and Winnipeg, May 11; Saskatchewan, Indian Head, April 16, McLean, April 16, South Qu’Appelle, April 243, and Wiseton, April 24; Colorado, Loveland, April 20, Larimer County, April 26; Wyoming, Ch~yenne, May 1, and Douglas, May 15; Montana, Milk River, May 18; Alberta, Flagstaff, May 10, and Alliance, May 11; California, Santa Barbara, April 27, San Buenaventura, April 28; and Washington, Grays Harbor, April 9.

Late dates of spring departure are: Florida, Amelia Island, May 15; Georgia, Wolf Island, April 30; South Carolina, Hilton Head, April 24; Missouri, Warrensburg, May 4, and Bounville, May 31; Illinois, Chicago, May 26; Nebraska, Valentine, May 16; Colorado, Durango, May 28, and Barr, May 30; Lower California, San Martin Island, April 10, and Turtle Bay, April 14; and California, Sandyland, June 9, Santa Barbara, June 15, and Los Angeles, June 16.

Fall migration: Early dates of arrival in the fall are: California, Los Angeles, July 7; Lower California, San Quentin, August 6, and Cape San Lucas, September 9; Wyoming, Douglas, July 31; Colorado, Barr, June 24; Illinois, Chicago, July 22; Ohio, Pelee Island, July 24; Maine, near Portland, August 8; New Hampshire, Seabrook, August 17, and Rye Beach, August 27; Massachusetts, Eastham, August 10; Connecticut, West Haven, August 26; New York, Lawrence, July 21; North Carolina, Pea and Brodie Islands, July 11; South Carolina, Ladys Island, August 21, and Bay Point. August 24; and Florida, St. Marks, September 11.

Late dates of fall departure are: California, Nigger Slough, November 15, Humboldt Bay, December 7. and San Diego, December 12; Colorado, Denver, September 5. Boulder. September 18, and San Luis Lake, October 1; Saskatchewan, Ravine Bank, August 25, and Defoe-Guernsey Camp, August 26; Manitoba, Margaret, September 22; North Dakota, Charlson, September 16, and Westhope, September 24; Nebraska, Lincoln, October 16; Michigan, Ne~vberry, September 23; Ohio, Sandusky Bay, October 12; Illinois, northeastern part, October 20; Quebec, Montreal, September 3; Maine, Popham Beach, September 13; Massachusetts, Newburyport, September 7; New York, Shinnecock Bay, September 15; New Jersey. Cape May, September 14; North Carolina, Beaufort, November 17; and South Carolina, Mount Pleasant, November 3.

Casual records: The marbled godwit has on several occasions been recorded outside of its normal range principally to the south and east of its winter quarters. Among these are: Ecuador (Santa Rosa, 1877); Lesser Antilles (Grenada. August 29, 1881, and also from the islands of Carriacou and Trinidad) ; Porto Rico (recorded from Boqueron by Gundlach); and Cuba (recorded from Cardcnas in September by Gundlach). It also has been noted from Alabama (near Greensboro, in 1880, and Dauphin Island, August 21, 1911); Ontario (Toronto, May 30, 1895, and June 7, 1890); Arizona (San Pedro River, January 27, 1886) ; and Alaska (Ugashik, July 16 and 18, 1881. Nelson Island, July 5, 1910, and Point Barrow, August 26, 1897).

Egg dates: Saskatchewan: 38 records, May 15 to June 27; 19 records, May 30 to June 9. Minnesota and Dakotas: 16 records. May 10 to June 14; 8 records, May 25 to June 8.

About the Author

Sam Crowe

Sam is the founder of He has been birding for over 30 years and has a world list of over 2000 species. He has served as treasurer of the Texas Ornithological Society, Sanctuary Chair of Dallas Audubon, Editor of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's "All About Birds" web site and as a contributing editor for Birding Business magazine. Many of his photographs and videos can be found on the site.

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