The Long-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus scolopaceus) is a medium-sized shorebird found throughout North America. It measures around 11-12 inches in length and has a wingspan of approximately 20-22 inches. The Long-billed Dowitcher weighs between 2.8-4.8 ounces, with males being slightly larger than females. Its most distinguishing field mark is its long, straight bill that measures around 2.5-3.5 inches in length.
In breeding plumage, the Long-billed Dowitcher has a bright rust-colored head and neck, with a mottled brown and black back and wings. Its underparts are white with distinct barring along its sides. During non-breeding season, the Long-billed Dowitcher’s plumage becomes much paler, with greyish-brown upperparts and white underparts.
The Long-billed Dowitcher is a long-distance migrant, with some individuals flying over 4,000 miles from their breeding grounds in Alaska and Canada to their wintering grounds in Mexico and Central America. Other birds may migrate in smaller increments and may stopover at staging sites along the way. The Long-billed Dowitcher spends its winter months in coastal wetlands, mudflats, and estuaries in Mexico and Central America.
The Long-billed Dowitcher is known for its probing feeding behavior, in which it inserts its long bill deep into the mud to search for invertebrates such as worms and crustaceans. It also feeds on aquatic plants and small insects. During breeding season, males perform an aerial display in which they fly high in the air and then rapidly descend while making a whistling sound.
The Long-billed Dowitcher is considered a species of conservation concern due to habitat loss and degradation, hunting, and disturbance at breeding and wintering sites. Conservation efforts are underway to protect and restore habitat for the Long-billed Dowitcher and other shorebirds, and to reduce hunting and disturbance at key sites.