Bird of the Week

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    Photo courtesy Charles Martinez

    This Week’s Bird of the Week, compliments of the Weminuche Audubon Society and Audubon Rockies, is the marbled godwit.

    April is a prime month to spot the colorful shorebirds which stop to rest here during their migratory journeys. Take binoculars and a camera to catch these birds feeding along the shorelines of shallow waters like those of Vista pond and the wetlands on Piedra Road.

    One of these attractive birds, the marbled godwit, is a large, long-legged sandpiper. Standing 18 inches tall, in breeding plumage it is barred above and below in gray, black and brown tones. In flight the bright cinnamon coloring of the underwings is visible.

    It uses its long, two-toned, slightly upturned bill to probe deep in the sand and mud to locate by touch aquatic invertebrates buried out of sight. It moves slowly while foraging in shallow waters, often inserting its entire sword-like bill into the mud. Leeches, small fish, grasshoppers and aquatic plant tubers are additions to its diet.

    Marbled godwits that we see in our area are on their way to summer breeding grounds primarily found in North and South Dakota, Montana and into Canada. These birds are grassland obligate, with a breeding range restricted to large tracts of short grass native prairie interspersed with shallow wetland areas. They breed from May to August before heading back to winter grounds along the coasts of the United States, Mexico and Central America.

    In the wild, marbled godwits have an average lifespan of 20-30 years. They have lost habitat both on their breeding and winter grounds. Predictions by the National Audubon Society based on a warming climate label this bird as “climate endangered.”

    For information on activities, visit www.weminucheaudubon.org and www.facebook.com/weminucheaudbon/.