Godwits

Godwits on the beach. Image taken at Natural Bridges in Santa Cruz.

Godwits

Godwits on the beach. Image taken at Natural Bridges in Santa Cruz.

Godwits

Godwits on the beach. Image taken at Natural Bridges in Santa Cruz.

Godwits

Godwits on the beach. Image taken at Natural Bridges in Santa Cruz.

Godwits

Godwits on the beach. Image taken at Natural Bridges in Santa Cruz.

Godwits

Godwits on the beach. Image taken at Natural Bridges in Santa Cruz.

Godwits

Godwits on the beach. Image taken at Natural Bridges in Santa Cruz.

Godwits

Godwits on the beach. Image taken at Natural Bridges in Santa Cruz.

Shorebirds like these Godwits are fantastic to watch. It seems like they are in a constant ballet with the ocean, running back and forth trying to stick those long sensitive beaks into the watery sand to find food and yet not get caught in the waves. You can often find several species of shorebirds searching for food in one big group and sometimes they can be difficult to tell apart. These marbled godwits are easy to spot, with those two-color beaks that curve slightly upwards and long black legs. Often, these birds will be found in marshes and mudflats as opposed to beaches and they can only be found along the west coast in winter. Come breeding season, most of them will migrate towards the center of the U.S. and Canada, to the grasslands and wetlands.

When they are on their nests, they will often let you get surprisingly close before they fly away, if you can even find them. In fact, sometimes incubating adults can even be picked up from their nests. Perhaps that’s because they are relying on their camouflage to hide them and sitting still helps them camouflage. Or perhaps it’s just because they’re good parents and don’t want to abandon their eggs. Still, there have been documented cases of nests with eggs from more than one female during a severe drought, indicating that a female might be willing to push off the responsibility of raising her chicks to another female if times are hard enough. And yet marbled godwits are known to protect their young from all sorts of threats, including ravens, cranes, foxes and even bears.

To read more about godwits, I recommend the Audubon society’s marbled godwit page here, which has loads of information and suggestions on what you can do to help keep shorebirds like these safe.

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