Boreal Birds
300+ species, billions of birds rely on Canada's boreal forest as critical breeding grounds
© Dick Daniels/Wikimedia Commons (CC 3.0)

Short-billed Dowitcher

Short-billed Dowitcher
Limnodromus griseus
Sandpiper-like Birds | Family: Sandpipers, Scolopacidae

An estimated 97% of the species' North American population breeds within the Boreal Forest.

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Overview

These are among the first shorebirds to migrate south, with adult Short-billed Dowitchers leaving as early as July and the young following in August. Dowitchers often occur in large flocks-sometimes in the thousands-on coastal flats during migrations, remaining well bunched whether in flight or feeding on a mudflat. They probe deeply with their long bills, with rapid up-and-down movements like sewing machines, seeking marine worms, snails, tiny crustaceans, and aquatic larvae.

Description

12" (30 cm). A snipe-like, long-billed shorebird with white lower back and rump, black-and-white checkered tail, dark bill, green legs. Summer adults have reddish underparts (belly often whitish) with variable spotting on breast and sides, barred flanks, and reddish edges on feathers of upperparts. Winter birds are gray overall, with pale eyebrow and white lower back and rump. See Long-billed Dowitcher.

Voice

A soft tu-tu-tu, quite unlike call of Long-billed Dowitcher.

Nesting

4 greenish eggs, spotted with brown, in a nest lined with grass and moss in a depression on the ground.

Habitat

Breeds on moist tundra or beside forest pools; visits mudflats, creeks, salt marshes, and tidal estuaries during migration and in winter.

Range/Migration

Breeds in southern Alaska, central interior Canada, and northern Quebec. Winters along coast from California and Virginia southward.