Thursday, October 24, 2013

A conundrum of Dowitchers at Fort DeSoto Park

There are two species of Dowitcher in North America....the Short-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus griseus) and the Long-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus scolopaeceus).  Having seen a feeding flock at Fort de Soto Park in St Petersburg, Florida.....I snapped a few photos and headed home to my field guides!  I found that distinguishing between the two, especially in non-breeding plumage to be very difficult....but here goes....these are Short-billed Dowitchers.  And here's why.

Audubon Society page on Dowitchers

 Short-bills are much more likely to be spotted feeding in the shallows in SALT water....the Long-bills prefer FRESH water.  This flock was feeding in the wrack at the entrance to Tampa Bay...SALT.

Bird Web page on Short-billed Dowitcher

I checked the Fort de Soto "bird list" and found the Short-billed listed as common during fall migration and the Long-billed rare all year.
Beautiful Fort de Soto Park guards the entrance to Tampa Bay.  Not my photo, by the way!

Gentle downward bill curve of Short-billed Dowitcher.

USGS monogram on Short-billed Dowitchers

There are two Ruddy Turnstones (Arenenaria interpres) in the above give a size scale...about 9 inches....right for a Short-billed.  Also these birds were making a constant "babbling noise" while feeding.

What a great spot for some early morning birding....part of the Great Florida Birding Trail

Compare the shape of these birds with the schematic below


White belly and barred flanks.

 Spots on nape of neck....I might even go out on a limb and call this bird (L.g. griseus) one of three subspecies.  What do you think, my birding friends?

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful photos, I love birds. I like too, the addition of a map, and other visual information.