Hudsonian Godwits are tough birds to find, and they were once thought extinct due to overhunting. After nesting at sites scattered in the High Arctic, they migrate south on a route that takes them over the ocean from Canada to South America. In spring, they head north through the Great Plains. Populations are estimated to be in the tens of thousands today, but like many arctic nesters, they are a threatened species.
Written by Rick Wright
This is BirdNote.
[Hudsonian Godwit, ML 167997]
A hundred years ago, we’d given up on the Hudsonian Godwit. The American ornithologist Alexander Wetmore wrote the species of sandpiper off as extinct in 1926. He lamented “the passing of this fine bird … attributed to the greed of gunners” who were attracted to its large size and delicate taste.
The Hudsonian Godwit has probably never been common, but even in Wetmore’s day the situation was not as dire as he thought.
[Hudsonian Godwit, ML 105829]
After nesting in the High Arctic, Hudsonians migrate south on a route that takes them over the ocean from Canada to South America. In spring, they head north through the sparsely populated Great Plains. It’s no wonder they were so rarely seen.
Today, the population of this rusty-breasted shorebird is estimated to be in the tens of thousands. But the Hudsonian Godwit is still in a tight spot.
In 2019, Canada added the bird to its list of threatened species. Its arctic nesting grounds are threatened by melting permafrost and sea level rise, and its wintering grounds are threatened by pollution and beachfront development.
Let’s hope that Alexander Wetmore’s fears for this bird’s continued survival don’t become reality.
[Hudsonian Godwit, ML 167997, 0:53 ff.]
For BirdNote, I’m Michael Stein.
Producer: John Kessler
Production Manager: Allison Wilson
Editor: Ashley Ahearn
Producer: Mark Bramhill
Associate Producer: Ellen Blackstone
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Hudsonian Godwit, ML 167997, recorded by Hope J. Batcheller. Hudsonian Godwit, ML 105829, recorded by Geoffrey A. Keller.
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
© 2020 BirdNote October 2020 Narrator: Michael Stein
ID# HUGO-01-2020-10-17 HUGO-01