Saturday, August 23, 2014

Sticking My Neck Out

I took the above photo last Sunday, over a week ago, during a birding trip at Baskett Slough National Wildlife Area with my friend John West.  We had counted over a hundred Long-billed Dowitches along the distant shoreline when this bird and another one flew in and landed right in front of us.  I thought from its posture with an outstretched neck it was a Greater Yellowlegs. The Dowitchers we had seen along the shoreline were all hunched over, in typical Dowitcher posture, giving the impression of almost no neck. When I got home and downloaded the photos in the computer I was surprised to notice all the apricot splotches on the neck and breast, not a coloring for a Yellowlegs.  After some looking in my guide books I decided on a Dowitcher.  The big question then was it a Short or Long-billed Dowitcher.  Long-billed are much more common, but the plumage makes me want to think it’s a Short-billed.  I have read that their bill length is not a dependable way to differentiate between the two species.  After having this post rattle around in my brain for a week, I am going to go ahead and stick my neck out, much like the bird in the photo, and say it’s a Short-billed Dowitcher. As always, I’m open to hear from anyone with a second opinion.  

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