Nature conservation

Threatened species

Black-tailed Godwit - profile

Indicative distribution

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The areas shown in pink and/purple are the sub-regions where the species or community is known or predicted to occur. They may not occur thoughout the sub-region but may be restricted to certain areas. ( click here to see geographic restrictions). The information presented in this map is only indicative and may contain errors and omissions.
Scientific name: Limosa limosa
Conservation status in NSW: Vulnerable
Commonwealth status: Not listed
Profile last updated: 13 Oct 2021


A large sandpiper reaching 44 cm long, with a wingspan of 63 - 75 cm. It has a distinctive long, straight bill that is pink with a black tip. The wing has a white wing-bar across the dark flight feathers, and white underwing coverts. There is a sharp demarcation between the white rump and the black tail. Legs are greenish-black, long and trailing. The non-breeding plumage, observed in Australia, is greyish-brown above and white below, and a grey breast. There is a broad white stripe on the underwing. The iris is brown. Most readily mistaken for the similar and more common Bar-tailed Godwits Limosa lapponica. Distinguishing features of the Black-tailed Godwit include the black tail in flight; longer, more pink, non-upturned bill; and non-streaked breast. Grey to rufous-chestnut coloured breeding plumage may be visible in some Australian birds just after arrival in spring, or prior to departure in autumn, and in some over-wintering birds.


The Black-tailed Godwit is a migratory wading bird that breeds in Mongolia and Eastern Siberia and flies to Australia for the southern summer, arriving in August and leaving in March. In NSW, it is most frequently recorded at Kooragang Island (Hunter River estuary), with occasional records elsewhere along the coast, and inland. Records in western NSW indicate that a regular inland passage is used by the species, as it may occur around any of the large lakes in the western areas during summer, when the muddy shores are exposed. The species has been recorded within the Murray-Darling Basin, on the western slopes of the Northern Tablelands and in the far north-western corner of the state.

Habitat and ecology

  • Primarily a coastal species.
  • Usually found in sheltered bays, estuaries and lagoons with large intertidal mudflats and/or sandflats.
  • Further inland, it can also be found on mudflats and in water less than 10 cm deep, around muddy lakes and swamps.
  • Individuals have been recorded in wet fields and sewerage treatment works.
  • Forages for insects, crustaceans, molluscs, worms, larvae, spiders, fish eggs, frog eggs and tadpoles in soft mud or shallow water.
  • Roosts and loafs on low banks of mud, sand and shell bars.
  • Frequently recorded in mixed flocks with Bar-tailed Godwits.

Regional distribution and habitat

Click on a region below to view detailed distribution, habitat and vegetation information.


Recovery strategies

Activities to assist this species

Information sources

IBRA Bioregion IBRA Subregion Known or predicted Geographic restrictions region
Brigalow Belt SouthLiverpool Plains Predicted None
Brigalow Belt SouthMoonie-Barwon Interfluve Predicted None
Brigalow Belt SouthNarrandool Known None
Brigalow Belt SouthNorthern Basalts Predicted None
Brigalow Belt SouthPilliga Predicted None
Brigalow Belt SouthPilliga Outwash Predicted None
Brigalow Belt SouthTalbragar Valley Predicted None
Broken Hill ComplexMootwingee Downs Predicted None
Broken Hill ComplexScopes Range Predicted None
Channel CountryBulloo Predicted None
Channel CountryBulloo Dunefields Predicted None
Channel CountryCentral Depression Predicted None
Channel CountrySturt Stony Desert Predicted None
Cobar PeneplainBarnato Downs Predicted None
Cobar PeneplainBoorindal Plains Predicted None
Cobar PeneplainCanbelego Downs Predicted None
Cobar PeneplainLachlan Plains Known None
Cobar PeneplainNymagee Predicted None
Darling Riverine PlainsBogan-Macquarie Known None
Darling Riverine PlainsCastlereagh-Barwon Known None
Darling Riverine PlainsCulgoa-Bokhara Predicted None
Darling Riverine PlainsLouth Plains Predicted None
Darling Riverine PlainsMenindee Known None
Darling Riverine PlainsWarrambool-Moonie Predicted None
Darling Riverine PlainsWilcannia Plains Predicted None
Mulga LandsCuttaburra-Paroo Predicted None
Mulga LandsKerribree Basin Predicted None
Mulga LandsNebine Plains Predicted None
Mulga LandsParoo Overflow Predicted None
Mulga LandsParoo-Darling Sands Predicted None
Mulga LandsUrisino Sandplains Predicted None
Mulga LandsWarrego Plains Predicted None
Mulga LandsWarrego Sands Predicted None
Mulga LandsWest Warrego Predicted None
Mulga LandsWhite Cliffs Plateau Predicted None
Murray Darling DepressionDarling Depression Predicted None
Murray Darling DepressionSouth Olary Plain Predicted None
NandewarKaputar Predicted None
NandewarPeel Predicted None
New England TablelandsArmidale Plateau Predicted None
NSW North CoastCoffs Coast and Escarpment Known None
NSW North CoastKaruah Manning Known None
NSW North CoastMacleay Hastings Known None
NSW North CoastYuraygir Known None
NSW South Western SlopesCapertee Valley Predicted None
NSW South Western SlopesInland Slopes Predicted None
NSW South Western SlopesLower Slopes Known None
OceanBatemans Shelf Known None
OceanHawkesbury Shelf Known None
OceanManning Shelf Known None
OceanSouth Pacific Ocean Predicted None
OceanTweed-Moreton Known None
OceanTwofold Shelf Known None
Ocean - Other StateNorthern Australian Coastal Waters Known None
Ocean - Other StateSouthern Australian Coastal Waters Known None
Other StateJervis Bay Territory Predicted None
Other StateQLD Known None
Other StateSA Known None
Other StateVIC Known None
RiverinaMurray Fans Predicted None
RiverinaMurray Scroll Belt Known None
RiverinaMurrumbidgee Known None
RiverinaRobinvale Plains Predicted None
Simpson Strzelecki DunefieldsStrzelecki Desert Predicted None
South East CornerBateman Known None
South East CornerSouth East Coastal Ranges Known None
South Eastern HighlandsBathurst Predicted None
South Eastern HighlandsCapertee Uplands Predicted None
South Eastern HighlandsHill End Predicted None
South Eastern HighlandsOberon Predicted None
South Eastern HighlandsOrange Predicted None
South Eastern QueenslandBurringbar-Conondale Ranges Known None
South Eastern QueenslandClarence Lowlands Known None
South Eastern QueenslandSunshine Coast-Gold Coast Lowlands Known None
Sydney BasinCumberland Known None
Sydney BasinEttrema Known None
Sydney BasinHunter Known None
Sydney BasinIllawarra Known None
Sydney BasinJervis Known None
Sydney BasinKerrabee Predicted None
Sydney BasinPittwater Known None
Sydney BasinWollemi Predicted None
Sydney BasinWyong Known None