Sunday, April 15, 2012

Short-billed Dowitchers - Famosa Slough

Short-billed Dowitchers on the Famosa Slough, San Diego, CA; 4/7/2012.
As long as I have been talking about Dowitchers this weekend (my past two posts), I saw my first Short-billed Dowitchers (Above) last week at the Famosa Slough, which is a nicely preserved wetlands not far from the Ocean Beach area in San Diego, CA.
A Short-billed Dowitcher searching for its meal, Famosa Slough, San Diego, CA; 4/7/2012.
Like its Long-billed cousins, Short-billed Dowitchers are common on mudflats and shallow ponds and sport the long bill. They look very much the same and are difficult to ditinguish from eachother. Short-bills are only a 1/2" smaller than their long-billed cousins and their bills are just slightly shorter (hence their names); however, out in the field this is not always evident.
Short-billed Dowitchers, Famosa Slough, San Diego, CA; 4/7/2012.
A better way of differentiating between these two similar sandpipers is during the breeding season, the Short-bill's plumage has more white on its undersides (Above), whereas, the Long-bills have more of a solid rufous coloring.
A Short-bill coming for a landing, joining its sleeping brothers, Famosa Slough, San Diego, CA; 4/7/2012.
Except for wintering on the Californian Pacific Coast, Short-billed Dowitchers are more likely to be found in the Eastern half of the U.S. especially during migration seasons. They will spend winters along both coasts, but when they migrate to their Summer grounds in the northern reaches of Canada and along the southern coasts of Alaska and the Aleutian Islands, they can be found inland in the Central and Eastern States, but are more likely to be found along the coasts on salt-water marshes. The famosa Slough, where I spotted these guys is a salt water marsh. Long-bills will winter inland on fresh water ponds and mudflats.

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