Meadow birds

Black-tailed Godwit

Endangered long-beak

Godwits are typical meadow birds. They have long legs which they use to walk extremely skilfully and quickly through the vegetation. Their inconspicuous plumage makes them excellently camouflaged. When breeding, Godwits are territorial, but they have only small nesting territories. Otherwise they are very sociable and can be observed in larger groups. 

Godwits forage mainly by probing the soil with their long beaks. The chicks pick invertebrates off the vegetation and have high food requirements (3,000–6,000 prey animals per day). Therefore, they spend up to 12 hours a day foraging. In doing so, the chicks can cover distances of up to 5 km.


Scientific nameLimosa limosa
CallWeeka … weeka … weeka
FoodSmall invertebrates, sometimes seeds
In breeding groundsMarch to July
Clutch size3–4
Broods per year1
Population trend in EuropeDeclining


More information

Find out more about the Black-tailed Godwit.


The Godwit is a breeding bird of largely open lowland landscapes. It occurs predominantly in wet grasslands that have nutrient-rich soil. Of particular importance is a high groundwater level with temporarily flooded sub-areas at the beginning of the breeding season. 

The vegetation should be heterogeneous, i.e. have patchy vegetation and grass of different heights. It is also important that the breeding areas are as free of woody plants as possible.


Godwits are migratory birds. From March to July they are in their breeding grounds, which include the German state of Lower Saxony and the Dutch province of Fryslân. When their young have fledged, both adult and young birds migrate to West Africa. There they spend the winter until they return in spring.


For the protection of the Godwit, it is essential to conserve and restore suitable habitats. This includes, in particular, structurally and nutrient-rich wet grasslands with shallow waters.

For Godwits to breed successfully, the areas must not be mown before mid-June. It is also important that not all meadows are mown at the same time so the young Godwits can move to other areas. It is necessary to refrain from using fertilisers and pesticides so that the vegetation is not too dense for the chicks but still contains enough food.