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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

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Maximum longevity: 13.3 years (wild)
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Limnodromus griseus

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A medium-sized (10 ½ - 12 inches) sandpiper, the Short-billed Dowitcher in summer is most easily identified by its mottled gray back, rufous neck, and long bill (although somewhat shorter than the bill of the related Long-billed Dowitcher, Limnodromus scolopaceus). In winter, this species becomes mottled gray above and solid gray below. Field marks visible at any time of year include a conspicuous dark eye-stripe, green legs, and pale belly. Male and female Short-billed Dowitchers are similar to one another in all seasons. The Short-billed Dowitcher breeds in three main populations: the first along the coast of southern Alaska and nearby areas of Canada, the second in the plains of western Canada, and the third along the Hudson Bay east to Quebec. This species is a long-distance migrant, wintering along the coasts from California and the Mid-Atlantic south to northern South America. This species primarily migrates up and down the coasts, and populations that nest in the interior turn inland only after they have reached New England or southern Canada. Short-billed Dowitchers breed in swampy areas of northern forests, often near the tree line at the edge of the tundra. This species is heavily associated with saltwater during the winter, being found on mud flats in salt marshes, coastal lagoons, and shallow mangrove wetlands in the tropics. Short-billed Dowitchers primarily eat small invertebrates, with insects being preferred in summer and small saltwater aquatic animals being preferred in winter. Due to the relative inaccessibility of this species’ breeding grounds, most birdwatchers never observe Short-billed Dowitchers during the summer months. In winter, when this species is more common near populated areas, Short-billed Dowitchers are most easily seen standing on mudflats while probing for food in the mud with their bills. This species is primarily active during the day, but may migrate at night as well as during the day.

Threat Status: Least Concern

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Reid Rumelt

Limnodromus griseus

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A medium-sized (10 ½ - 12 inches) sandpiper, the Short-billed Dowitcher in summer is most easily identified by its mottled gray back, rufous neck, and long bill (although somewhat shorter than the bill of the related Long-billed Dowitcher,Limnodromus scolopaceus). In winter, this species becomes mottled gray above and solid gray below. Field marks visible at any time of year include a conspicuous dark eye-stripe, green legs, and pale belly. Male and female Short-billed Dowitchers are similar to one another in all seasons. The Short-billed Dowitcher breeds in three main populations: the first along the coast of southern Alaska and nearby areas of Canada, the second in the plains of western Canada, and the third along the Hudson Bay east to Quebec. This species is a long-distance migrant, wintering along the coasts from California and the Mid-Atlantic south to northern South America. This species primarily migrates up and down the coasts, and populations that nest in the interior turn inland only after they have reached New England or southern Canada. Short-billed Dowitchers breed in swampy areas of northern forests, often near the tree line at the edge of the tundra. This species is heavily associated with saltwater during the winter, being found on mud flats in salt marshes, coastal lagoons, and shallow mangrove wetlands in the tropics. Short-billed Dowitchers primarily eat small invertebrates, with insects being preferred in summer and small saltwater aquatic animals being preferred in winter. Due to the relative inaccessibility of this species’ breeding grounds, most birdwatchers never observe Short-billed Dowitchers during the summer months. In winter, when this species is more common near populated areas, Short-billed Dowitchers are most easily seen standing on mudflats while probing for food in the mud with their bills. This species is primarily active during the day, but may migrate at night as well as during the day.

References

  • Jehl, Jr., Joseph R., Joanna Klima and Ross E. Harris. 2001. Short-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus griseus), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/564
  • Limnodromus griseus. Xeno-canto. Xeno-canto Foundation, n.d. Web. 20 July 2012.
  • Short-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus griseus). The Internet Bird Collection. Lynx Edicions, n.d. Web. 20 July 2012.
  • eBird Range Map - Short-billed Dowitcher. eBird. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, N.d. Web. 20 July 2012.

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Rumelt, Reid B. Limnodromus griseus. June-July 2012. Brief natural history summary of Limnodromus griseus. Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C.
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Short-billed dowitcher

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 src=
In breeding plumage
 src=
Adult in foreground, red knot in background

The short-billed dowitcher (Limnodromus griseus), like its congener the long-billed dowitcher, is a medium-sized, stocky, long-billed shorebird in the family Scolopacidae. The genus name Limnodromus is Ancient Greek from limne, "marsh" and dromos, "racer". The specific griseus is Medieval Latin for "grey".[2] The English name is from Iroquois and was first recorded in 1841.[3]

It is an inhabitant of North America, Central America, and northern South America.[4] It is strongly migratory; it completely vacates in breeding areas during the snow-bound months.[5] This species favors a variety of habitats including tundra in the north to ponds and mudflats in the south. It feeds on invertebrates often by rapidly probing its bill into mud in a sewing machine fashion.[6] It and the very similar long-billed dowitcher were considered one species until 1950.[7] Field identification of the two American Limnodromus remains difficult today. Distinguishing wintering or juvenile short-billed dowitchers from the long-billed species is very difficult and, even given examination their subtlety different body shapes, cannot always be isolated to a particular species. They differ most substantially in vocalizations. The names of American dowitchers are misleading, as there is much overlap in their bill lengths.[6][7] Only a small percentage can be identified by this character alone.[7]

Description

The body of adults is dark brown on top and reddish underneath. The tail has a black and white barred pattern. The legs are a yellowish color.

There are three subspecies with slight variations in appearance:

  • L. g. griseus has a white belly and barred flanks.
  • L. g. hendersoni has a reddish belly and spotted flanks.
  • L. g. caurinus has a white belly with heavily barred flanks and densely spotted breast.

None of these combines the reddish belly and barred flanks of the breeding plumage long-billed dowitcher. The winter plumage is largely grey. This bird can range from 23 to 32 cm (9.1 to 12.6 in) in length, 46 to 56 cm (18 to 22 in) in wingspan and 73–155 g (2.6–5.5 oz) in body mass.[8]

The call of this bird is more mellow than that of the long-billed dowitcher, and is useful in identification, particularly of the difficult adult plumages.

Breeding and habitat

Their breeding habitat includes bogs, tidal marshes, mudflats or forest clearings south of the tree line in northern North America. L. g. griseus breeds in northern Quebec; L. g. hendersoni breeds in north central Canada; L. g. caurinus breeds in southern Alaska and southern Yukon.

These birds nest on the ground, usually near water. Their nests are shallow depressions in clumps of grass or moss, which are lined with fine grasses, twigs and leaves. They lay four, sometimes three, olive-buff to brown eggs. Incubation lasts for 21 days and is done by both sexes.

The downy juvenile birds leave the nest soon after hatching. Parental roles are not well known, but it is believed the female departs and leaves the male to tend the chicks, which find all their own food.

They migrate to the southern United States and as far south as Brazil. This bird is more likely to be seen near ocean coasts during migration than the long-billed dowitcher. This species occurs in western Europe only as an extremely rare vagrant.

Feeding

These birds forage by probing in shallow water or on wet mud. They mainly eat insects, mollusks, crustaceans and marine worms, but also eat some plant material.

References

  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Limnodromus griseus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2012. Retrieved 26 November 2013.old-form url
  2. ^ Jobling, James A (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. pp. 179, 227. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
  3. ^ "Dowitcher". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  4. ^ American Ornithologist' Union. Check-list of North American Birds. American Ornithologists' Union. 1998.
  5. ^ Sibley, David Allen (2000). The Sibley Guide to Birds. New York: Knopf. p. 483. ISBN 0-679-45122-6.
  6. ^ a b Paulson, Dennis R. (1993). Shorebirds of the Pacific Northwest. University of Washington Press. ISBN 978-0295977065.
  7. ^ a b c Kaufman, Kenn (1990). Kaufman Field Guide to Advanced Birding. Kaufman Field Guides. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 978-0547248325.
  8. ^ CRC Handbook of Avian Body Masses by John B. Dunning Jr. (Editor). CRC Press (1992), ISBN 978-0-8493-4258-5.

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Short-billed dowitcher: Brief Summary

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 src= In breeding plumage  src= Adult in foreground, red knot in background

The short-billed dowitcher (Limnodromus griseus), like its congener the long-billed dowitcher, is a medium-sized, stocky, long-billed shorebird in the family Scolopacidae. The genus name Limnodromus is Ancient Greek from limne, "marsh" and dromos, "racer". The specific griseus is Medieval Latin for "grey". The English name is from Iroquois and was first recorded in 1841.

It is an inhabitant of North America, Central America, and northern South America. It is strongly migratory; it completely vacates in breeding areas during the snow-bound months. This species favors a variety of habitats including tundra in the north to ponds and mudflats in the south. It feeds on invertebrates often by rapidly probing its bill into mud in a sewing machine fashion. It and the very similar long-billed dowitcher were considered one species until 1950. Field identification of the two American Limnodromus remains difficult today. Distinguishing wintering or juvenile short-billed dowitchers from the long-billed species is very difficult and, even given examination their subtlety different body shapes, cannot always be isolated to a particular species. They differ most substantially in vocalizations. The names of American dowitchers are misleading, as there is much overlap in their bill lengths. Only a small percentage can be identified by this character alone.

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Distribution

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North America; northern Labrador
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North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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