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The Hudsonian Godwit is one of the largest shorebirds that breeds in the NWT. It has long, dark legs and a long, slightly upturned bill. The bill is bi-coloured in both sexes, being pinkish red at the base and becoming darker towards the tip. Females tend to be larger than males on average, but males have darker plumage overall.

Weight:  Females, 246 to 358 g (8.7 to 12.6 oz); Males, 196 to 266 g (6.9 to 9.4 oz)  
Length:  36 to 42 cm (14 to 17 in)

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Hudsonian Godwits are known to breed at three main locations in North America: western Alaska, the Hudson Bay coast, and along the Beaufort Sea coast in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region (especially the Mackenzie River Delta). Hudsonian Godwits undertake one of the longest migrations of any bird species in the world. They can travel more than 32,000 km annually between their North American breeding grounds and wintering sites in South America.

Range map information


Habitat for the Hudsonian Godwit includes wetland areas of Arctic and sub-Arctic regions, such as grass/sedge meadows or muskeg. The nest site is well concealed and often located on dry hummocks or ridges of tundra polygons.

Hudsonian Godwits undergo drastic physiological changes to prepare for their long migration. Muscles used for flight can triple in size, fat stores increase dramatically, and digestive organs (which aren’t useful for flight) can shrink to a fraction of their normal size in order to reduce weight. Overall, their body mass may double or even triple.

Counts of Hudsonian Godwits at migratory stopover sites indicate the species has declined significantly since the 1970s, although the reliability of these estimates remains low. The causes of this decline are unclear, but the species is considered vulnerable to disturbance because many individuals in the population can gather together at only a small number of key staging and wintering sites.

Potential threats in the Northwest Territories include breeding habitat degradation from threats like climate change and industrial development, and direct disturbance at nest sites from resource exploration and development.

COSEWIC assessed Hudsonian Godwit as Threatened in 2019.

Hudsonian Godwits and their nests are protected under the federal Migratory Birds Convention Act.

Gwich'in Inuvialuit