Living Bird Magazine
Instant ID help for 650+ North American birds.Try Merlin Bird ID
In breeding plumage, Short-billed Dowitchers are lovely orange, brown, and golden shorebirds with chunky bodies and very long bills (despite the name). Look for them in wetlands across North America, from coastal mudflats to sewage ponds and flooded fields. Like the very similar Long-billed Dowitcher, it probes for food by rhythmically inserting the bill straight up and down like a sewing machine needle at work. On tundra breeding grounds, males perform flight displays on quivering wings, delivering a grating, bubbly song.More ID Info
Short-billed Dowitchers are conspicuous, widespread shorebirds that are relatively easy to find during migration and in winter. In coastal areas, look for them in mudflats, tidal wetlands, or shallow freshwater impoundments. They roost in flocks during high tide and often during lowest tide, preferring to feed in open mudflats during falling and rising tides, when only a few inches of water covers the bottom. Inland, they favor similar wetland environments but also frequent flooded fields (including sod farms) and sewage treatment areas with muddy margins.