Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Short-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus griseus) walking the beach...

Birding Sanibel Island and the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge
Shorebird ID is always tough for me because I don't get to see them that often, so when large flocks of assorted waders fly in, I really have to think. When trying to identify shorebirds, I focus on three things to start; leg color, bill shape, and height. Since I can't identify shorebirds yet by call, and I normally see them only in non-breeding plumage, sticking to the "big three" seems to be the best way for me to ID them.

A Short-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus griseus) walks the shore on Captiva Island in Florida.

Short-billed Dowitchers and Long-billed Dowitchers look a lot alike, but according to my "Birds of Florida" book by Pranty, Radamaker, and Kennedy, Long-billed Dowitchers are "restricted to fresh water during winter." Since it was the end of winter when I saw this bird, and he was standing where the land meets the sea, it was easy to deduce that this fellow was the short-billed version of the bird...

The Short-billed Dowitcher's field marks are pretty clear...a medium-sized shorebird with pale yellow legs and a very long, straight bill. Check!

...another determining field mark of a dowitcher is a black-and-white barred tail.

...the two yellow-legged Short-billed Dowitchers seem to be pointing at the tiny Dunlin in front of them. It's easy to see dowitchers are medium-sized birds compared to the tiny Dunlins or Sanderlings.

...for comparison, a Short-billed Dowitcher stands next to a Dunlin. (For an earlier post on Dunlins, click here.) Size, leg color, and bill shape are different between these two birds!

...not quite The Three Tenors, but these three Short-billed Dowitchers look dapper in the sun. Our little Dunlin doesn't seem to be able to keep his eyes open!

13 comments:

ShySongbird said...

Lovely photos as always Kelly!

Living in such a landlocked area I too have trouble with wader IDs :)

Your Short-billed Dowitcher is lovely and it was good to see the size comparison with the Dunlin which as you say is a tiny bird. I remember being surprised by how small it was the first time I saw one.

grammie g said...

HI Kelly ..I love these kind of shore birs with the long bills and legs...there movement and . I have some carved ones I collected and I love them.
Lovely photos of the adorable favorites of mine...The one doozing of is me now an then when I am standing!! lol
You are on of the few that I am able to still comment on GRRRR!!

texwisgirl said...

such sweet birds. their feather patterns are gorgeous and you captured them really well!

Roy said...

Great shots Kelly! Ah, I do so miss living by the ocean. Oh well, at least there are some Killdeer who live around here.

Montanagirl said...

Terrific photos, Kelly! I love that last one...All lined up.

forgetmenot said...

Kelly, You are a walking encyclopedia on birds and flowers. Great shots of the Dowitcher. And the photo of the Valerian was amazing. You do such nice work. Have a lovely week. Mickie :)

Kelly said...

Songbird...thank you! The first time I saw a Dunlin I was surprised how small it was too! From the photos in field guides I was expecting a larger bird!

Grammie...I have a few carved shorebirds too! They are so interesting. Hahaha...I totally get the dozing bird too!

Tex...they are just starting to morph into their breeding plumage so we get a peak at that color. I think it's beautiful too!

Roy...I bet you really do miss living by the ocean. I would love to someday be able to be walking distance to the ocean. It feels so good to be around it...and then there are all the birds...

Mona...thank you! Like they are ready to sing!

Thank you, Mickie! It was the first time I ever saw the Valerian along the trail. I was happy to add a new flower to sightings along the Little Miami River!

Carol Mattingly said...

Aren't they gorgeous. You did a fantastic job of capturing this beautiful shorebird. Now I wished I was at the beach. Dang. Carol

KAT said...

cool photos Love your blog Im a new follower
I live in Loveland OH and I blog about my art stuff
KAT

Phil said...

Superb images Kelly. What us Brits would give for views of SBD like that, and even more for views of LBD at the same time.

Kelly said...

Carol...thanks! I know what you mean. I always wish I was at the beach beach!

Kat..thanks for dropping by. We aren't that far from each other. I'm just in Mason!

...thanks, Phil. I'm in heaven every time I go to Florida because of how brave the birds are there. You can be sitting there reading a book, and a small flock of Dunlins can coast in and land right next to you! I love Florida Birds!

Kathiesbirds said...

Well written post! Love it! Love the photos too!

Roy said...

You have taken some really fabulous images here Kelly.