The Marbled Godwit’s beak isn’t quite as long as the Long-Billed Curlew‘s, but the godwit makes up for it by plunging into the mud with beak, head, and neck, up to the shoulders. It’s foraging in shallow water and stirring up the mud as it does so, which suggests that it can’t be following visual clues to good stuff but is diving in more or less at random, like the smaller sandpipers. However, it does seem to be hitting pay dirt maybe one out of seven dives, based on a very small sample.
It was good to see this bird at low tide. To my eyes, their numbers were much slighter this year than last, and I wondered what happened to them. A few days later I saw a little flock of three. That’s way fewer than last year but an improvement.
By coincidence, an Audubon reader just posted a link to a methodologically interesting study of godwits. A Dutch PhD student attached tiny sensors to godwit legs that yielded GPS location, time, and light intensity data. When a bird sat on a nest in daytime, the sensor registered darkness. On this basis, the researcher was able to establish where, when, and how long a bird sat in a nest. The study yielded the surprising finding, contrary to traditional eyeball observations, that godwits frequently started a second clutch of eggs in the same season, but never after May 12. The study is in Science Daily here.
Marbled Godwits in Cesar Chavez Park, here.