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Long-billed Dowitcher Limnodromus scolopaceus


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Long-billed Dowitcher
credit: Mike Baird/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Scolopacidae, Sandpipers view all from this family

Description ADULT summer Has beautifully marked upperparts, back feathers with dark centers and orange or white margins. Cap is dark and underparts are flushed orange, more extensively than in Short-billed, and with more extensive dark barring on neck and breast. ADULT WINTER Has gray upperparts, neck, and breast, grading less abruptly into otherwise white underparts than in Short-billed. JUVENILE Similar to juvenile Short-billed, but note uniformly dark-centered tertials, lacking internal barring seen in juvenile Short-billed.

Dimensions Length: 12" (30 cm)

Habitat Common; nests on tundra. Migration is coastal and winters on Gulf coast, south to Central America, favoring mudflats and estuaries but also freshwater marshes further inland.

Observation Tips Easy to see on coasts outside breeding season. Much more likely to be found on inland freshwater habitats, within winter range, than Short-billed.

Range Great Lakes, Southwest, New England, Plains, Rocky Mountains, Northwest, Alaska, Texas, Southeast, California, Western Canada, Eastern Canada, Florida, Mid-Atlantic

Voice Utters a shrill kyeep call.

Discussion Very similar to Short-billed. Bill length is not useful in identification due to variation within, and overlap between, the two species. However, a bird with a strikingly long bill is likely to be a female Long-billed. Subtle plumage differences (tertial markings in juveniles; extent of orange in breeding birds; gradation from gray to white on underparts in winter birds) and distinctly different calls are most useful diagnostic features. Habits and behavior are similar to Short-billed. Sexes are similar.