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Short-billed Dowitchers, Limnodromus griseus

Short-billed dowitcher on a sandy shore

Short-billed Dowitchers are medium-sized shorebirds that breed in wetland habitats in Alaska and Canada from May to July and migrate to coastal and wetland habitats of the Caribbean and North, Central and South America

During the breeding season, Short-billed Dowitchers are commonly found in specific habitats like freshwater and brackish marshes, where the surroundings include tall grasses and reeds.

Their primary diet consists of aquatic invertebrates such as aquatic insects, crustaceans, and small mollusks, which are abundant in these wetland environments during the breeding season.

They forage in shallow water, probing the mud with their long bills to capture their prey. Their bills are adapted for extracting invertebrates hidden in the substrate.

Short-billed Dowitchers engage in courtship rituals that involve aerial displays and vocalizations by the males to attract females. Pairs form during this period.

Nest building takes place in the dense vegetation of the wetlands, where they create shallow depressions lined with grasses and leaves.

Females usually lay four eggs, which are primarily incubated by the female. The male remains nearby to protect the nest. After hatching, the adults provide care to the chicks, feeding them a diet of small aquatic invertebrates.

As the chicks develop, they learn to forage under the guidance of the adults, honing their hunting skills. Vulnerabilities during this stage include predation by avian predators and exposure to changing weather conditions.

Short-billed Dowitcher chicks eventually fledge and gain independence, but they continue to receive guidance from the adults in locating suitable foraging areas and prey. Their diet broadens as they gain experience.

Migration for Short-billed Dowitchers occurs in late summer and early fall. They follow specific flyways, migrating from their North American breeding grounds to wintering regions in countries such as the United States, Mexico, Central America, and northern South America.

During the winter, Short-billed Dowitchers can be found in various habitats, including coastal estuaries, mudflats, and marshes of southern North America, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. Their diet during this season consists of a variety of small invertebrates, including tiny shrimp, worms, and small mollusks, which are abundant in these areas.

Short-billed Dowitchers typically leave their wintering grounds and begin their northward migration in the spring, returning to their breeding areas in North America to commence another breeding season.