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Long-billed Dowitcher - BirdForum Opus

Breeding Plumage
Photo © by Neil
Palo Alto, California, May 2006
Limnodromus scolopaceus


Photo © by postcardcv
Hayle, Cornwall, UK, February 2006

24–30 cm (9½-11¾ in)

  • Yellowish-green legs
  • Long straight dark bill, slightly distally de-curved
  • Tail has a black and white barred pattern with narrow white bars and broader dark bars.
  • Prominent supercilium
  • Noticeable white wedge up the back and trailing edge to wing


  • Dark brown upperparts
  • Salmon-red underparts including undertail coverts
  • Spotted throat
  • Barred sides of breast and flanks


  • Mostly grey
  • White lower belly

Fine rusty fringing to mantle lacking internal markings on tertials.

Similar species

In non-breeding plumage very similar to Short-billed Dowitcher. Breeding Long-billed has more extensively colored underparts and has barring on the side of the breast while Short-billed is spotted on the breast. Juvenile plumage very different with Short-billed having much broader more extensive internal markings on mantle and tertials than Long-billed. At all seasons, best distinguished by voice.


Breeds in Siberia and Alaska; winters from southern U.S. to Panama.

Regular vagrant to Europe, particularly Britain and Ireland.


This is a monotypic species[1].


Although preferring fresh water habitats, they can also be seen in estuaries, mud flats, saltwater wetlands, reservoirs, and sewer ponds.



Probes with an up-and-down action often described as like a sewing machine.


They nest on the ground, usually near water.


Diet mainly consists of small crustaceans, molluscs, insects and marine worms, but includes some plant material as well. They forage by probing in shallow water or on wet mud.


Common call is a squeaky high pitched note or series of notes, recalling Sanderling.


Migratory. Southward migration through North America usually later than Short-billed Dowitcher; winters on West Coast, southern USA and Mexico.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Chandler, R. (2009). Shorebirds of North America, Europe, and Asia: A photographic guide. Princeton Univ. Press.
  3. Takekawa, J. Y. and N. D. Warnock (2000). Long-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus scolopaceus), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (A. F. Poole and F. B. Gill, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bna.493
  4. Van Gils, J., Wiersma, P. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Long-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus scolopaceus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/53886 on 21 February 2020).
  5. Wikipedia contributors. (2020, January 18). Long-billed dowitcher. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 10:31, February 21, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Long-billed_dowitcher&oldid=936406427
  6. Grant, P.J., K. Mullarney, L. Svensson, D. Zetterstrom (1999) Collins Bird Guide: The Most Complete Field Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe. Harpercollins Pub Ltd ISBN 0 00 219728 6
  7. BirdForum Member observations

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