Long-Billed Dowitcher

Limnodromus scolopaceus
Range Map

Short-Billed and Long-Billed Dowitchers are very difficult to distinguish in the field. We know both species for the “sewing machine” action they exhibit while feeding. Their ‘flight call’ that is most reliable means to determine which dowitcher you’ve seen. Listeners describe the notes of the Short-Billed as more mellow than the Long-Billed Dowitcher. There is a difference in habitat preference for the two, but there can be some overlap. The Short-Billed favors beaches and mud flats, whereas the Long-Billed favors grassy fresh water areas.

Summers find these birds further north and west than their Short-Billed cousins. The breeding territory of these birds spans the coasts of the Bering and Chukchi Seas. One half of the birds nest in northeastern Siberia and the other in northern Alaska and Canada’s Yukon and Northwest Territories. Most of these birds migrate to the southern USA and Mexico, but the east and west coasts of the USA also host these birds in winter. In Asia, Japan and Taiwan regularly see these birds in winter.

I’ve met wintering birds in Oregon, California, and Nevada. One day I’d like to visit them at their Arctic summer homes.

Science regards the Long-Billed Dowitcher as monotypic (i.e. no subspecies).

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