Bar Tailed Godwits – The Bird That Started It All

Bar tailed godwits are a large wader who arrive in Australia in August each year after having traveled from the northern hemisphere. They settle along the east coast of Australia and can be seen at coastal estuaries, beaches and mudflats.

They will leave Australia during April and May to return to their breeding grounds in Alaska and Scandinavia. The bar tailed godwit undertakes the longest non stop migration of any bird, taking 7 or more days to fly without a stop over and their wings are flapping constantly, 24 hours a day!

Here are some interesting facts about bar tailed godwits –

  • They can live for 30 years
  • They eat aquatic insects, molluscs, worms, and berries
  • Their top flight speed is about 60km/h
  • They are social birds and are often seen hanging out with other shorebirds
  • A group of bar tailed godwits is called an omniscience, a pantheon, or a prayer

These birds are special to me because my very first sighting of a bar tailed godwit is what got me into birdwatching many years ago. At the age of 14, I was on holidays with my family at Jervis Bay on the south coast of New South Wales, and one day I spied some strange looking birds feeding along the beach at low tide. I remember asking my Dad what they were and he told me he thought they were a godwit. I remember thinking it was a funny name for a bird and thought he was joking, as my Dad often enjoyed tricking me with things like that. So for the time we were there on holidays, I borrowed my Dad’s binoculars and spent ages watching these birds from the beach front house we were staying in. For Christmas that year, my Dad bought me a small paperback book on identifying Australian birds (and therefore proved that my Dad was telling the truth about them being a godwit!) and also my very own pair of binoculars (which I still have today!). And that’s where it all began 40 years ago!

2 thoughts on “Bar Tailed Godwits – The Bird That Started It All

  1. A very informative showcase of one of my favourite birds Sue ! Thanks for sharing your lovely story of the significance of this bird and how your dad unwittingly encouraged you into birding. These are one of the highest flying birds (around 5000 m and sometimes up to 6000 m) and will try to catch the upper wind drifts in migration if they can, to hasten their voyage more effortlessly. Love your video. Enjoy your weekend my friend and stay warm.

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