|Moments before, I saw this flock of shorebirds swoop by me, but I was unable to get a good focus even with my autofocus and burst mode on. What were they? Riparian Preserve, Gilbert, AZ; 12/24/2011.|
|What is this bird? Riparian Preserve, Gilbert, AZ; 12/24/2011.|
|Okay, the head is starting to emerge, but I still didn't know what it was...|
|I can see clearly now... is it a ...? Riparian Preserve, Gilbert, AZ; 12/24/2011.|
|Whatever it is, it sure has a long bill, Riparian Preserve, Gilbert, AZ; 12/24/2011.|
|Another Long-billed Dowitcher, Riparian Preserve, Gilbert, AZ; 12/26/2011.|
|A Long-billed Dowitcher landing in its favorite habitat - a shallow freshwater pond, Riparian Preserve, Gilbert, AZ; 12/26/2011.|
The Long-billed Dowitcher can be distinguished from its closely related cousin, the Short-billed Dowitcher by some slight differences in size, colorings, and habitat. Long-bills are only slightly larger (11 1/2" long to the SBD's 11' long), but their bills in proportion to their overall size are longer. And even though the photos I have of these sandpipers are showing their non-breeding plumage (in their breeding plumage, they turn a beautiful rufous coloring from head to tail) and difficult to distinguish from the Short-bills, according to most field guide books, the Long-bills are more likely to be found on freshwater ponds in the West; whereas, Short-bills are more likely to be found in the East during migration and wintering seasons.