Bar-tailed godwits, new research


This is a bar-tailed godwit video from Sweden.

Translated from Vroege Vogels radio in the Netherlands:

While the Dutch Wadden Sea since the 1990s is flooded by bar-tailed godwits, along the East Atlantic Flyway one can see a decline. This appears from research by ecologist Sjoerd Duijns of NIOZ. He spent the last years studying the diet of both the migratory and overwintering bar-tailed godwits in Europe. Duijns will get his PhD Monday, December 22 for his research.

Sjoerd Duijns discovered that male bar-tailed godwits mainly eat small worms and that the females go for the big deep sandworms. Females also have longer bills than males.

The large amounts of bar-tailed godwits in our Wadden Sea does not mean that things go well with the population, according to Duijns.

The bar-tailed godwit overwinters as a migratory bird both in Africa and in the Wadden Sea and breeds in northern Scandinavia and Siberia. Their numbers along the East Atlantic Flyway are decreasing. Fewer birds are seen along the coast of Africa, but also closer to home like in Denmark, Germany and England. In the Dutch Wadden Sea, the numbers are increasing, however.

The plans for large-scale salt exploitation beneath the western part of the Wadden Sea according to Duijns may affect the bar-tailed godwit negatively. By salt mining subsidence can occur and then lots of wading birds will lose their food sources.

Sjoerd Duijns studied Forest and Nature Conservation at Wageningen University. He conducted his PhD research at the Department of Marine Ecology of NIOZ Royal Dutch Institute for Sea Research on Texel.

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