A snipe-like, long-billed shorebird with white lower back and rump, black and white checkered tail, dark bill, green legs. Summer adults have reddish underparts (including belly), with barring on breast, sides, and flanks, and reddish edges on feathers of upperparts. Winter birds gray overall, with pale eyebrow and white lower back and rump.
The female has a longer bill than the male. The Long-billed in breeding plumage usually has some barring rather than spotting on the side of its breast in front of the wing. Long-billed Dowitchers are usually found in smaller flocks than Short-billeds, but huge flocks of Short-billed Dowitchers often include a few Long-billed Dowitchers. Long-billed Dowitchers feed by probing their long bills into mud or shallow water. Their bills are full of nerve endings, useful for sensing prey. They walk along slowly, lifting their heads up and down like a sewing machine. The call is a high peeping sound, usually a single call, but sometimes repeated.
During migration and winter, Long-billed Dowitchers are usually found on fresh water marshes and sometimes in coastal areas. They are often found on drying lakeshores. In coastal habitats, they are usually in small pools with salt-marsh vegetation. They breed farther north and west than Short-billeds, in grass- or sedge-dominated tundra marshes in Arctic coastal regions in Alaska.
Until 1950 Short-billed and Long-billed Dowitchers were considered a single species. The Canadian Wildlife Service estimates the population of Long-billed Dowitchers at 500,000. While they are not abundant anywhere in Washington, they are fairly common and widespread. Over-hunting contributed to declines in the late 1800s and early 1900s, but protection from hunting has resulted in a rebound. Range-wide, the number of migrants has increased, and the breeding population has recently expanded into Siberia. It is not fully understood whether this is a shift from other nesting areas, or a true expansion. Habitat loss and environmental contaminants also threaten the current population of Long-billed Dowitchers.
.Accidental in Iceland, Britain (virtually annual), Ireland (annual), Channel Islands, France, Netherlands (11 records, 1983-94, mainly May, some returning annually with an apparently fixed migration pattern), Hungary. Also Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Israel, Morocco, Canary Islands. In addition, many records (in some countries listed above, also Poland, Austria, Madeira) referring either to this species or Short-billed Dowitcher.
On the breeding grounds, Long-billed Dowitchers eat insects and insect larvae. On mudflats they also eat mollusks, crustaceans, marine worms, and other aquatic invertebrates
This species has a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 100,000-1,000,000 km². It has a large global population estimated to be 500,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2002). Global population trends have not been quantified, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern. [conservation status from birdlife.org]
Long-billed Dowitchers usually nest on the ground near water. The nest itself is a fairly deep scrape in a clump of moss or grass, lined with sedge or grass. The bottom of the nest is often damp. Both parents incubate the four eggs for 21 to 22 days. The young leave the nest within a day of hatching and find their own food. Both parents help tend the young at first, but the female may abandon the group soon after they hatch. The male probably stays with the young until they are close to fledging at 20-30 days. Each pair raises a single brood per year.
Migratory, wintering (apparently including Siberian breeders) from southern USA (California east to Florida) south to Guatemala. Main southward passage July-September; some birds make long south-eastern movements towards Atlantic coast. Return passage April-May. Long-billed Dowitchers migrate medium distances, not as far as Short-billeds. Some first-year birds stay on the wintering grounds in summer.
- spanwidth min.: 42 cm
- spanwidth max.: 47 cm
- size min.: 27 cm
- size max.: 30 cm
- incubation min.: 20 days
- incubation max.: 21 days
- fledging min.: 0 days
- fledging max.: 0 days
- broods 1
- eggs min.: 3
- eggs max.: 5
- Conservation Status