Bird of the Week – Short-billed Dowitcher


WC overlooked the Short-billed Dowitcher when posting its close cousin, the Long-billed Dowitcher, back in August 2015.

Short-billed Dowitcher, Hartney Bay, Cordova, shown slumming with Sanderlings

Short-billed Dowitcher, Hartney Bay, Cordova, shown slumming with Sanderlings

It can be pretty tough to tell a Long-billed from a Short-billed. Location helps: if you are on the coast, it’s more likely a Short-billed; if you are further from the ocean, it’s more likely a Long-billed.

Short-billed Dowitcher, Yakutat Forelands

Short-billed Dowitcher, Yakutat Forelands

Bill length and coloration vary a lot. The calls are different, but both Dowitchers spend most of their time in a frenzied feeding, their bills probed full length in the mud, like a busy sewing machine.

Dowtichers are not well-studied. Even their name is a puzzle. They were hunted in the 18th and 19th centtury, and on the east coast called German Snipe. Perhaps “dowitch” is derived from “Deutscher” or “Duitsch”, which referred to the “German” snipe. Ornithologists were even sure there were two species until the early 1950s.

For more bird photos, please visit Frozen Feather Images.

 

Advertisements