|Short-billed Dowitchers (I think!)|
Monday, April 30, 2012
The two species of dowitchers present a dilemma. Short-billed Dowitchers and Long-billed dowitchers are so similar in appearance that they are very difficult to separate from each other. The most reliable way to tell them apart is by their calls. I heard this group of dowitchers calling, and I am fairly sure they made sounds typical of Short-billed Dowitchers. Another way to figure out which dowitcher is which is to look at the calendar. Here in the northern Great Plains, Short-billed Dowitchers migrate later in the spring and earlier in the fall than Long-billed Dowitchers. In the spring they do not show up here until late April. However, today (April 30th), both Long-billed and Short-billed Dowitchers could be migrating through the area. So, as a final way to determine which species I saw today, let's look at the backs of the birds pictured here. Long-billed Dowitchers have very dark feathers edged in dark rufous. Short-billed Dowitchers generally appear lighter in color, with dark feathers trimmed in cream or tan. I think the coloration of the birds in this picture is more typical of Short-billed Dowitchers. I have to admit, though, that I am still a bit confused. How about you?