That strange bendy beak
This video clip shows a strange ability of the Godwit
So I just learned something new.
When observing the Godwits I kept seeing what I thought was some kind of optical illusion where I thought I saw it’s straight bill bend like rubber. I thought it was like the ‘rubber pencil’ illusion I used to perform at school. That was until I filmed the bird through my scope.
This little video clip with slow motion clearly shows that the Godwit has the remarkable ability to flexibly curl the top mandible. Known as ‘distal rhynchokinesis’ it is thought to help capture food whilst the beak is submerged in mud. It features the Black-tailed Godwit in the background - right and the Bar-tailed Godwit, foreground - left. The Black-tailed Godwit's scientific name is Limosa limosa (literally 'Mud mud'), whilst the Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica references 'Mud Lapland'. Just as an interesting side-note - there is a subspecies of Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica baueri in New Zealand that migrates from Alaska across the Pacific Ocean. This is the longest known non-stop flight of any bird in the world and also the longest distance without pausing to feed by any animal. A journey of over 11,000 km each way!