The Hudsonian Godwit (Limosa haemastica) is an elegant wader of long legs and upturned long bill that breeds locally in subarctic Alaska and Canada (east to Hudson Bay) and winters in southern South America on both coast, but mainly along the Atlantic coast. Their migration routes not usually include Central America nor Panama; that is why they are extremely rare here.
So far, there are only two published records: a basic-plumaged bird at the Caribbean side of former Canal Area in October, 1983 (photographed) and three birds seen at flight (from an airplane) on the coast 20 km east of Panama City in September, 1997. A more recent unconfirmed report (January 2010) of a basic-plumaged individual appears in Xenornis by my friend Venicio Wilson. This season, two juveniles were found by Euclides Campos on October 25th, 2016 in Finca Bayano, a rice farm 40 km east of Panama City. So far, they have been re-located on October 29th and today, November 1st, at the same site (and where I took all the photos shown in this post).
|Hudsonian Godwit showing tail pattern|
These birds were actively feeding by probing the mud with their long bills in typical habitat. In other parts, these birds are found in mudflats and coastal areas as well. The scaled back and warm tones of these birds make them juveniles; adults in basic plumage are grayer overall. However, at all ages these birds exhibit black tails with white rumps (as seen in the preening bird above) and dark wing linings and narrow white wing stripe in flight, as seen in the blurry bird below.
|Hudsonian Godwits (notice under wing pattern)|
Despite its delicate appearance, these birds are powerful creatures that make nonstop flights over the open sea for several days in order to reach their wintering grounds. Having a pair refueling in Panama to continue its journey is a special event... one that nobody knows when it will repeat. For these, and many other reasons is why we chose the Hudsonian Godwit as our Bird of the Month!
1. Ridgely R, Gwynne J. A Guide to the Birds of Panama. Princeton University Press: 1989.
2. Angehr G, Engleman D, Engleman L. Where to find birds in Panama. Editora Novo Art, 2006.
3. Angehr G, Dean R. The Birds of Panama. A Field Guide. Zona Tropical: 2010.
4. Van Gils J, Wiersma P, Kirwan GM. Hudsonian Godwit (Limosa haemastica). In: Del Hoyo J, Elliot A, Sargatal J, et al (editors). Handbook of the birds of the world alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.