Short-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus griseus)

Short-billed Dowitcher

[order] CHARADRIIFORMES | [family] Scolopacidae | [latin] Limnodromus griseus | [UK] Short-billed Dowitcher | [FR] Becassine roux | [DE] Kleiner Schlammlaufer | [ES] Agujeta Gris | [NL] Kleine Grijze Snip


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Limnodromus griseus NA n s USA, LA
Limnodromus griseus caurinus s Alaska and s Yukon (nw Canada) c USA to Peru
Limnodromus griseus griseus ne Canada s USA to Brazil
Limnodromus griseus hendersoni c Canada se USA to Panama

Physical charateristics

A snipe-like, long-billed shorebird with white lower back and rump, black-and-white checkered tail, dark bill, green legs. Summer adults have reddish underparts (belly often whitish) with variable spotting on breast and sides, barred flanks, and reddish edges on feathers of upperparts. Winter birds are grey overall, with pale eyebrow and white lower back and rump. See Long-billed Dowitcher.

Listen to the sound of Short-billed Dowitcher

[audio: Dowitcher.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 46 cm wingspan max.: 56 cm
size min.: 27 cm size max.: 30 cm
incubation min.: 19 days incubation max.: 22 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 22 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 5  


North America : North


During breeding season, uses marshes, bogs, and lake edges in the northern conifer forests of Canada and Alaska. During migration and winter, they strongly prefer saltwater coastal habitats, although some may migrate through the interior of the continent.


The nest and eggs of this species eluded discovery until 1906, and even that information was overlooked for a long while because they were attributed to the Long-billed Dowitcher. The nesting grounds of the eastern race were not discovered until the late fifties.
The nest is a scrape depression in the ground lines with grass and moss. 4 greenish eggs with brown spots and a 20 day incubation period. Although both sexes share incubation of the eggs, only the male takes care of the young once they hatch.

Feeding habits

Diet varies with season, but includes insects and insect larvae, mollusks, crustaceans, marine worms, and the seeds of aquatic plants. May feed heavily on horseshoe crab eggs during migration.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Short-billed Dowitcher status Least Concern


Long distance migrant. Race caurinus moves down Pacific coast, some birds inland through West USA, wintering on coast from California to Peru. Hendersoni passes Eastern Great Plains, valley of Rio Mississippi and East coast of USA, South of New York and New Jersey, and winters from the Carolinas round Gulf coast and down both coasts of Central America to Panama. Race Griseus moves down Atlantic coast to North Carolina and South through Caribbean to Northern Brazil, while highest numbers wintering in Surinam. Small number of non-breeders spend Northern summer on wintering grounds. Females leave breeding grounds from early July before males, and juveniles from late July; birds reach North South America from mid-August to early October. Spring migration early may to early June.

Distribution map

Short-billed Dowitcher distribution range map

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