Friday October 4, 2013 juvenile Long-billed Dowitcher study

Seward, Alaska

I found a single juvenile LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER today that graciously posed for my camera before resuming feeding. It may be one of the four that were seen on September 24, (see blog photos for that date.)

Thanks to Sadie Ulman for describing the distinguishing characteristics of a Long-billed Dowitcher. The lack of any barring on the tertials is a great ID mark. 

Here are Sadie's pointers:

Time of year:
Typical migration chronology is failed breeders, followed by adults, followed by juveniles.  LBDO typically migrate later than SBDO.

Juvenile vs adult:
The overall coloration and fresh (non-worn) condition points to Juvenile over Adult.

LBDO have dark gray tertials, with a buffy fringe and no internal markings on the feathers. SBDO will have dark gray with an orange/buff fringe and strong internal markings of buff/orange. The presence/absence of internal tertial markings is one of the best indicators between the species.

Greater coverts:
LBDO usually uniformly gray vs a strong pattern in SBDO

LBDO gray
SBDO dark brown
This is sometimes hard to decipher.

LBDO typically vocalizes while feeding
SBDO is typically silent

Fall shorebird ID is tricky, but once some key identification marks are known, it becomes a little easier. I hope this helps!

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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