Birds of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance
Marbled Godwit - Limosa fedoa
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General Comments Though this species is a godwit, it has quite a few similarities to the Long-billed Curlew; both breed in inland prairies and grasslands, both are very large in size of body and bill length, and both have a rich buff/ochre plumage. Of the four godwits in the world (and in the state), the Marbled Godwit is the only regularly seen one in North Carolina, it being limited mainly to extensive coastal/tidal mudflats and pools. It also occurs frequently in coastal freshwater impoundments, but largest numbers tend to be at tidal flats. It is quite local along the coast, returning in fall and winter to a few highly favored areas, leaving it scarce along most of the coast. As with other godwits and curlews, migrants essentially pass over inland area in nocturnal migration and do not put down unless forced to by storms or other bad weather.
Breeding Status Nonbreeder
NC BRC List Definitive
State Status
U.S. Status
State Rank S2N
Global Rank G5
Coastal Plain Transient and winter resident, essentially along the coast. Uncommon to locally fairly common fall migrant along the entire coast. In winter along the coast, locally fairly common from Carteret southward, and rare to locally uncommon northward. It may be common in a few areas, such as at Portsmouth Island and Fort Fisher/Zeke's Island. Less numerous in spring, but a few may remain all summer. Very rare in most of the Tidewater zone at any season, though a handful of recent records at Lake Mattamuskeet. Casual farther inland, with four early fall records: singles at Gray Creek (Cumberland) from 20-26 Jul 1998, at Goldsboro on 26 Jul 1993, at Greenville on 27 Aug 1998 (associated with Hurricane Bonnie), and at Buckhorn Reservoir (Wilson) on 17 Sep 2007. Normal dates along the coast are mid-Jul to late Apr, with some records in May and Jun. Peak counts: 450, Ocracoke Island, 5 Apr 2004; 434, Portsmouth Island, 25 Sep 1992.
Piedmont Fall transient only. Very rare (about 19 records) at reservoirs, where birds put down at night during stormy weather; records mostly at Jordan and Falls lakes, but three records for the southwestern Piedmont. The only record for the northwestern half of the province is one at Kerr Scott Reservoir (Wilkes) on 1-2 Sep 2014. Dates range from 1 Aug to 9 Oct; peak counts: 6, Jordan Lake, 6-7 Sep 1996 (after Hurricane Fran); 4, Moss Lake (Cleveland), 22 Sep 1989 (after Hurricane Hugo). Oddly, there are no records yet for the Greensboro -- Winston-Salem areas.
Mountains Casual transient, in spring and fall. The only records (five) are of 2 birds, Hooper Lane (Henderson), 8-9 Sep 2004 (after Tropical Storm Frances) [Chat 69:49 link]; a remarkable 11 birds at Lake Julian (Buncombe), 19 Apr 2006 [Chat 70:100 link]; one photographed at Hooper Lane on 6 Jul 2013 [Chat 77:153 link]; one seen and photographed at Hooper Lane on 23-24 Jul 2019 [Chat 83:113 link]; and an excellent 6 birds at Ecusta Pond (Transylvania) on 18 Apr 2022 [Chat 86:78 link].
Finding Tips This species can usually be found along the coast in Aug and Sep, less so later in fall and winter. The most accessible spots are The Basin at Fort Fisher and impoundments at Pea Island. Less accessible (boat needed) are Bird Shoal near Beaufort, the east end of Shackleford Banks, and Portsmouth Island. The most accessible winter site is The Basin at Fort Fisher.
Attribution LeGrand[2023-03-10], LeGrand[2022-09-12], LeGrand[2022-02-08]
NC Map
Map depicts all counties with a report (transient or resident) for the species.
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