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Long or Short Billed Dowitcher and how the heck do you tell??


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So at this location there have been Short-Billed Dowitchers reported, (even on the same day and day before I was there. I spent two hours there photographing every Dowitcher there, way easier than all of the 400 or so Least Sandpipers,  as there were only about a dozen or so Dowitchers.   I have hundreds Sacramento Valley Images of Dowitchers all labeled Long-billed.  How on earth do you tell the difference?  What should I be looking for in my images to see if there is a short-billed in them?  I have been researching, but I cannot figure it out!  Near as I can tell from what I have read is that Short-billed are basically more balanced and streamlined with the Long-billed having a bit bigger body with head a bit out of proportion.  Any advice would be appreciated.

Dowitcher_C16I2297-Edit.jpg

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Long or Short Billed Dowitcher and how the heck do you tell??

You pretty much can't without hearing them. They are kind of like Eastern/Western Meadowlarks, if you try to identify them without vocals, you are pretty much guessing. 

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If they're in breeding plumage, you can tell them buy looking at their scapular feathers.  Short Billed will have narrow buffy tips, with the edging extending all the way up the feather.  Long billed will have a broader end to the feathers, with the the buffy limited to the tips.  I can see people calling the first one you submitted a short billed because there IS some breeding feathers in there, and they have the narrow tips, the buffy edging going all the way up the feather.

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1 hour ago, Inastrangeland said:

 I can see people calling the first one you submitted a short billed because there IS some breeding feathers in there, and they have the narrow tips, the buffy edging going all the way up the feather.

The bird's feathers are very worn and the patterning is not visible in the way that it is in spring. These are not juveniles, so they are best left as LBDO/SBDO.

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