The long-billed dowitcher (Limnodromus scolopaceus) is a medium-sized shorebird with an unusually long beak that is a member of the Scolopacidae family of sandpipers. Adults have a lovely rufous head and underparts, a darker speckled back, and a huge white upper rump that is only visible in flight. They feed in a variety of freshwater settings using their bill underwater in a “sewing machine” motion and are famed for their dramatic courtship show, which involves males chasing females in flight.
Quick Overview: Limnodromus Scolopaceus- Long-Billed Dowitcher
Body size: Around 11-12.5 in (28-32 cm) and a weight of 135 g (4.76 oz).
Main colors: Red-Brown, White, Yellow-green
Range: Throughout the United States
Migratory Bird: Yes
Best time of the year to see in the U.S.: March, April, May, September, October, November
Conservation Status: Least Concern
Long-billed Dowitcher Description
This huge, stocky sandpiper sports dark, mottled upper parts, a dark cap, an eye stripe, a small white eyebrow, and reddish-brown underparts with weakly barred sides. Long, black, and dagger-like bill; yellow-green legs and feet.
These birds have a length of 11-12.5 in (28-32 cm) and a weight of 135 g (4.76 oz). Their wings could range from 18-20 in (46-51 cm).
When it is feeding, it resembles a sewing machine due to the way its bill probes up and down. Insect larvae, earthworms, crustaceans, moss, plant parts, seeds, and snails comprise its food.
The long-billed dowitcher spends the breeding season on the tundra. The long-billed dowitcher is found on mudflats, marshes, and along the edges of freshwater ponds and marshes during migration and the winter.
They use a quick, repetitive up-and-down motion with their bill to probe in shallow water and on mudflats. They frequently submerge their heads beneath the surface of the water. They have been observed drinking brackish water with their bill dipped and raised and their head cocked back.
Limnodromus Scolopaceus Scientific Classification
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Subphylum: Chelicerata
- Class: Aves
- Order: Charadriiformes
- Family: Scolopacidae
- Genus: Limnodromus
- Species: Limnodromus scolopaceus
Best time of the year to see
In the United States, the best time of year to see these birds are during the Spring season (March-May) and during the Autumn season (September – November).
Distribution of the Long-billed Dowitcher in the USA
Breeds along the western Alaskan and northwest Canadian coasts. Winters along the Washington and Virginia coasts, south through Guatemala, and throughout Mexico.
The Long-billed Dowitcher can be found in the following states in the United States – Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.