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Short-billed Dowitcher Identification

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The Four Keys to ID

  • Size & Shape

    A chunky, medium-sized shorebird with a long, straight bill and moderately long legs.

    Relative Size

    Larger than a Lesser Yellowlegs, smaller than a Greater Yellowlegs.

    Relative Sizerobin sizedrobin-sized

    • Both Sexes
      • Length: 9.8-11.4 in (25-29 cm)
      • Weight: 3.2-4.2 oz (90-120 g)

Regional Differences

Three subspecies, readily identified in breeding plumage but otherwise very similar, are caurinus (breeding in Alaska), hendersoni (central and western Canada), and griseus (northeastern Canada). During the breeding season, these subspecies are mostly geographically separate, but the ranges of griseus and hendersoni come into contact along the southwestern shore of Hudson Bay. Of these three subspecies, the western caurinus is the most heavily marked below in breeding plumage, almost as strongly marked as Long-billed Dowitcher, and shows orange tones below as far as the legs. The central hendersoni is very lightly marked below and shows beautiful orange tones well past the legs, recalling Red Knot in breeding plumage. The eastern griseus shows extensive spotting on the breast and bars on the flanks but very little color below, mostly paler buff-orange on the neck and upper breast.