Common Name

Scientific Name

Photo by Tim Provan
Photo Courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

Dowitchers are medium-sized shorebirds with long straight bills. The long-billed dowitcher, Limnodromus scolopaceus, breeds on the coast of northwest Alaska, as well as in northwestern Canada. It winters along the west coast of the United States; along the Gulf coast and southern Atlantic coast of the United States; in southern California, Arizona, and New Mexico; and in Mexico and Guatemala. It is commonly seen during migration in the western United States, and is considered a common transient in Utah. It has been seen migrating in areas throughout the state during all times of the year, except mid-winter.

Long-billed dowitchers commonly feed in shallow water, where they probe the mud for crustaceans, aquatic insects, worms, and the seeds of aquatic plants. They breed on grassy areas of tundra, as well as in wet meadows. The nest is usually built right on grass or moss, and then lined with grasses or leaves. Both parents will incubate the four eggs. Initially the male and female share nest sitting duties equally; later, however, only the male will incubate the eggs. The young hatch after about three weeks. They 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.