Short-billed Dowitcher

short-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus scolopaceus)

The Short-billed Dowitcher dark bill is actually quite long but it’s named as such to distinguish it from the Long-billed Dowitcher.

Breeding adult Short-billed Dowitchers are medium-sized birds with football-shaped, brown, black, and gold-mottled bodies and are cinnamon-colored underneath with varying degrees of spots and bars.

They have dark-brown crowns and their legs are long and dark yellow-green. 

Non-breeding adults are grayer with whitish bellies with a few brownish-gray barring on the flanks.

Juveniles have orange breasts and extensive dark feathers with cinnamon-colored edges on their backs and wings.

There are three subspecies in North America, each with a variation in coloring and markings.

  • Limnodromus griseus
  • Length: 10.5 – 12 in (27 – 30 cm) 
  • Weight: 5.43 oz (154 g)
  • Wingspan: 18 – 22 in (46 – 56 cm)


Short-billed Dowitchers breed predominantly in Canada before migrating to the coats of the southern United States, Central and South America.

Habitat and Diet

During the breeding season, you can find Short-billed Dowitchers in bogs, tidal marshes, mudflats, and boreal wetlands near the treeline. In winter, you may find them in saltwater estuaries and lagoons.

Short-billed Dowitchers rapidly probe the mud or water with vertical, sewing machine-like movements.

They capture a lot of insects, mollusks, shrimps, crabs, and marine worms with this method.

Short-billed Dowitcher Calls:


Nests of Short-billed Dowitchers scrapes lined with grass on the ground near water. The female lays three to four eggs and incubation takes twenty-one days by both parents. The female leaves when the eggs hatch, leaving them under the care of the male. 

Fun Fact:

It is hard to distinguish the Short-billed Dowitcher from the Long-billed Dowitcher. However, the Short-billed Dowitcher’s call is more mellow.