Long-billed Dowitcher

The Long-billed Dowitcher is very similar in appearance to the Short-billed Dowitcher. Both birds are medium to large shorebirds. In breeding plumage, they are reddish underneath and mottled brown above. In flight, they show a pale trailing edge on their wings and a distinctive white blaze up their backs, which easily identifies them as dowitchers. The distinction between the two species is not as simple. The female of both species has a longer bill than the male, and the bill of the female Short-billed is the same length of that of the male Long-billed, so bill length can be confusing. The Long-billed in breeding plumage usually has some barring rather than spotting on the side of its breast in front of the wing. The Short-billed is usually spotted. The belly of the Long-billed is typically reddish all the way back, while the Short-billed often has some white on its belly. The juvenile Short-billed is brighter than the Long-billed, with light edging on its feathers. The Short-billed juvenile has bright edging and internal markings on the tertial feathers. The Long-billed juvenile is drabber and darker than the Short-billed. Non-breeding plumage is very difficult to distinguish. Range, habitat, and vocalizations should all be used to help distinguish between these two species.