Birds of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance
Hudsonian Godwit - Limosa haemastica
Search Common:                 Search Scientific:
General Comments The Hudsonian Godwit has an unusual migration pattern. It migrates from its central and southern South America wintering grounds northward through the middle of the United States to its breeding grounds along the taiga/tundra ecotone; however, fall migration carries it southeastward over the eastern United States and the western Atlantic, most of its flight being over the ocean. Thus, it is casual to nearly accidental in North Carolina in spring, and regular though scarce in fall. Unless migrating godwits meet severe storms, they pass over inland portions, as there are just a few such far inland records. Birders need to visit the coast, primarily from Cape Hatteras northward, in the fall to have a chance to see this scarce species. Hudsonians favors shallow pools and impoundments along the coast, preferably fresh to brackish; it typically shuns salt water. They are usually found mixed with other large species of shorebirds, such as Marbled Godwits, dowitchers, yellowlegs, and Willets.
Breeding Status Nonbreeder
NC BRC List Definitive
State Status
U.S. Status
State Rank SZ
Global Rank G4
Coastal Plain Transient. Casual in spring, at Bodie/Pea Islands only; rare to uncommon in fall at Bodie/Pea Islands and in the Cape Hatteras area, and very rare farther north or south along the coast, in fall. Probably not rare in fall well out to sea, in the fall season; there are several reports of flocks in flight over the ocean, out of sight of land. Mid-May to late May (only 3 records); and early Aug to mid-Nov. Two documented winter records: one photographed at Pea Island on 14 Dec 2017 [Chat 82:65 link], and another photographed there on 8 Dec 2018 [Chat 83:59 link]. Single reports of one at Pea Island on 30 Dec 1980, and one at Pea Island on 27 Feb 1971, might be correct (seen by experienced birders), though it is not known if Black-tailed Godwit was ruled out; there is a winter record of the latter, documented by photos, from the coast in 1979-80. In the Tidewater zone, very rare in fall, mainly at Lake Mattamuskeet; farther inland, casual in fall, with four records, two from the Goldsboro area, one from Greenville, and one from Buckhorn Reservoir (Wilson). Peak counts: 57 (in two flocks), flying south over the ocean off Nags Head (Dare), 18 Aug 2017; 16, Cape Hatteras, 29 Aug 1998; 15, resting on the ocean off Oregon Inlet, 25 Aug 1990; 15 at Rodanthe (Dare), 8 Sep 2009.
Piedmont Casual fall transient (only in the eastern and central portions), with four records: 1, Falls Lake, 21-23 Aug 1999; 2, Falls Lake, 11-15 Sep 1988; 1 (photographed), Lake Wheeler (Wake), 27 Aug 2011*; a remarkable 11 photographed at Lake Wheeler on 12 Sep 2017, immediately after Hurricane Irma [Chat 82:32 link] and cover photo); and one photographed at Governors Island on Lake Norman (Lincoln) on 25 Sep 2021. No records yet for the Triad area (Greensboro and Winston-Salem region).
Mountains Accidental fall transient; two records -- 3 at Hooper Lane (Henderson), 8 Sep 2004* (after Tropical Storm Frances) [Chat 69:49 link]; and 2 at that site on 12 Sep 2017 (after Hurricane Irma) [Chat 82:32 link].
Finding Tips Look for them in Sep and Oct, especially after periods of strong NE winds. North Pond at Pea Island is the best spot to see them. A few are also seen at Bodie Island each fall; Cape Hatteras Point around the margin of the Salt Pond and Portsmouth Island have also had multiple records, though the latter site is reachable only by boat.
Attribution LeGrand[2023-03-18], LeGrand[2023-03-10], LeGrand[2022-02-08]
NC Map
Map depicts all counties with a report (transient or resident) for the species.
Click on county for list of all known species.