Family: (Scolopacidae) Sandpiper, Phalaropes, and Allies
Preferred Habitat: Tidal flats and flooded prairies.
Seasonal Occurrence: Common fall through spring; uncommon in summer.
One of our largest sandpipers, the Marbled Godwit has a long, bicolored, slightly upcurved bill that makes it easy to identify. Overall the bird is tawny brown mottled with black, the breast and belly are buff and cinnamon wing linings are distinctive in flight. In breeding plumage, the breast and belly are heavily barred.
Marbled Godwits breed on northern prairies and winter on our coastlines; however, the rare summer straggler can be spotted on our coasts. One was recently reported on our Bolivar Flats Shorebird Sanctuary.
The genus name of the Marbled Godwit is Limosa, meaning "muddy" which refers to the bird's preference for muddy foraging habitats. This bird probes deeply in soft substrates and can frequently be seen with its head submerged beneath the water or with its face pressed into a mudflat. When on the coast, Marbled Godwits feed on mollusks, marine worms, and crustaceans. In summer on prairies, they feed mostly on insects, including many grasshoppers and also on the roots and seeds of various aquatic plants, such as sedges and pondweeds.
-- Vicki Stittleburg