Black-tailed Godwit in mandibular clash

posted in: Feeding strategy, Waders | 1

Allan Teo sent in an image of a pair of waders taken in India. Ong Tun Pin very kindly identified them to be non-breeding Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa).


Allan thought the birds were fighting and he was right. They are usually peaceful, feeding as a flock. But as soon as food is limited, each bird vigorously defends its feeding territory. And when another moves in, there will always be a quarrel. In the image above, the two birds are engaged in a “mandibular clash” using their long bills to settle a territorial dispute.

This godwit is a winter visitor and passage migrant to Singapore and Malaysia. It breeds in Northeast Asia, moving south through the Indian subcontinent to reach Southeast Asia and even further to south New Guinea, north and west Australia. Fewer birds are now stopping over in Singapore, probably because of habitat loss.

The bird winters in sheltered waterways where there are intertidal mudflats and in sandy beaches, marshes, lake shores and rice fields. Food is chiefly invertebrates like insects, spiders, worms, molluscs, crustaceans, tadpoles and some seeds and berries.

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