Common Name

Scientific Name

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Photo by Jeff Nadler
Photo Copyright Jeff Nadler

Dowitchers are medium-sized shorebirds with long straight bills. The short-billed dowitcher, Limnodromus griseus, breeds in northern Canada and southeastern Alaska. It winters along the coastlines of North America and South America, from the mid-United States southward to Peru. The short-billed dowitcher migrates in mixed flocks down the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, and along the eastern plains. It is only a rare transient in Utah.

Short-billed dowichers repeatedly jab their long bills into shallow portions of salt water or mud to probe for crustaceans, aquatic insects, worms, and the seeds of aquatic plants. They breed on grassy or mossy areas of tundra, in wet meadows, or in boreal forest bogs. They build a shallow nest in a clump of moss, and then line it with fine materials. Both the male and the female incubate the four eggs for approximately three weeks. The male is protective of the nest, and will reportedly roll the eggs to a new site if he feels the nest is in danger. The hatchlings are mobile and capable of finding their own food, though they will follow their parents until they fledge.


  • Ehrlich, P. R., D. S. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The birderís handbook[:] a field guide to the natural history of North American birds. Simon & Schuster, New York. xxx + 785 pp.

  • National Geographic Society. 1996. Field guide to the birds of North America, 2nd edition. The National Geographic Society, Washington, D. C.

  • Hayward, C. L., Cottam, C., Woodbury, A. M., and H. H. Frost. 1976. Birds of Utah. In Great Basin Naturalist Memoirs, No. 1 (Wood, S. L. and K. T. Harper, eds.). Brigham Young University, Provo, UT.