Rare Black-tailed Godwit Spotted on Mad Birder Trip

Posted on Sunday 29 April 2007

On Sunday, April 29, Mad Birders spent the day birding the Champlain Valley and the flooded fields of Addison County.  While scanning the extensive expanse of water near Cedar Swamp Bridge in Salisbury Station, trip co-leader, Carl Bates, called our attention to some birds he’d spotted across the meadow.  One of them was very different – bigger, red head, barring on the chest, bi-colored bill, white rump patch.  After consulting our birding guides, looking through scopes we had with us, getting as close as we could to take photos without spooking the bird, we concluded that it was a Black-tailed Godwit.  This is a large wading bird, with long legs.  It is standing beside a Greater Yellowlegs and is noticeably bigger than this well-known shorebird.

We’ve notified the VTBird experts, sent the photos, and hope that some others can see the bird, confirm or correct us.  In any case, Godwits in Vermont are very rare in the spring. The Hudsonian is listed as seen every year from August through November in the Champlain Valley in Murin and Pfeiffer’s book, Birdwatching in Vermont.  

What a great way to end our day of birding with 58 species seen.

Update:  April 30 – The bird has been confirmed to be a Black-tailed Godwit by several experts from around the state.  This is the first sighting in Vermont and one of 5 or 6 in New England. 



The two shots below were taken by Hector Galbraith who helped to confirm this Vermont newcomer! Hector is impressed by the color of this bird and he believes that this is a male in breeding plumage.



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