1457. Limosa lapponica.
The Bar-tailed Godwit.
Scolopax lapponica & aegocephala, Linn. Syst. Kat. i, p. 246 (1766). Limosa rufa, Temm. Man. d'Orn. ed. 2, ii, p. 668 (1820); Blyth, Ibis, 1865, p. 36; Hume, S. F. i, p. 235; Seebohm, Charadr. p. 384. Limosa lapponica, Hume, Cat. no. 875bis; Butler, Cat. B. Sind & c. p. 62; Hume & Marsh. Game B. iii, p. 417, pi.; Murray, Vert. Zool. Sind, p. 244 ; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 349 ; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. xxiv, p. 373.
Coloration in winter. Upper parts ashy brown, dark-shafted, and the feathers pale-edged, the wing-coverts with whitish borders; broad indistinct whitish supercilia; bastard wing, primary-coverts, and primaries blackish brown, secondaries dark brown; greater secondary-coverts, secondaries, and inner primaries with white margins, inner borders of primaries mottled with white; lower back and rump white, with a few arrowhead- or heart-shaped brown spots ; upper tail-coverts white, with irregular brown bars ; middle tail-feathers ashy brown towards the end, tipped whitish, barred with white and brown towards the base, outer rectrices barred throughout ; lower parts white except the fore neck and upper breast, which are sullied and marked with brown streaks; axillaries white, with brown arrowhead spots or bars.
Young birds in autumn differ from adults in having the back dark brown with buff spots, the tertiaries with marginal buff indentations, the tail barred throughout, and the lower parts isabelline, growing white on the abdomen. They appear to moult into the adult winter plumage about October or November.
In breeding-plumage the crown is black with rufous edges to the feathers ; hind neck rufous, slightly streaked ; back, scapulars, and tertiaries blackish brown, with rufous spots ; quills and wing-lining as in winter; tail barred white and brown throughout; lower parts deep dull rufous (dull chestnut), streaked with brown on the sides of the breast.
Bill black or dusky near the tip, basal half pinkish; irides brown ; legs and feet black or dusky plumbeous (Hume).
Length of males 14.5 ; tail 2.5 ; wing 8 ; tarsus 2 ; bill from gape 3. Females are larger : wing 8.5, bill 3.6 to 4.4.
Distribution. The Bar-tailed Godwit breeds in Northern Europe and North-western Asia, and migrates in winter to Africa north of the equator and South-western Asia. It is common at that season in Karachi Harbour, the only locality in the Indian Empire at which it has been found. In Eastern Asia an allied species or subspecies, L. novae-zealandiae, occurs, distinguished by its dusky lower back and rump, of which the feathers are blackish with white edges, and by its longer bill. This bird breeds in Alaska and Eastern Siberia and ranges in winter through China, Japan, and the Malay Archipelago, to Australia, Polynesia, and New-Zealand. One specimen was obtained at Singapore by Davison, but none has hitherto been procured in Burma.
Habits, &c. Very similar to those of L. belgica ; but the present bird does not collect in as large flocks, and is generally found in winter associating with other waders. It is almost exclusively a coast bird, feeding on small Crustacea, annelida, and mollusca, and its flesh is inferior to that of the Black-tailed Godwit.