Sunday, May 2, 2010

Tricky Sandpipers

This morning I ventured out to one of our local sewage treatment pools in search of shorebirds.  I came upon this dowitcher, and all day I have been debating its identity.  Long-billed and Short billed Dowitchers are notoriously difficult to tell apart.  To me, this one seems to have the front end of a Short-billed Dowitcher--note the spotted rather than plain or barred sides of the neck.  But the lower underparts are definitely dark reddish--indicative of a Long-billed Dowitcher.  In the field, because of that dark reddish color, I identified this bird as a Long-billed Dowitcher. A friend once told me that you see Long-billed Dowitchers when you are wearing long pants, and Short-billed when you are wearing shorts.  In other words, Long-bills migrate earlier in the spring than do Short-bills.  I was wearing long pants, but I COULD have gone out in shorts...
This Semipalmated Sandpiper was a little easier to identify.  Note its very short black bill and black legs.  Also, the breast appears to be whitish, without streaking.  I have not observed many Semipalmated Sandpipers near Northfield.

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