SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER(Limnodromus griseus) – (See images below)
DESCRIPTION: The Short-billed dowitcher is a shorebird with a fairly long bill in spite of its name, that is about twice as long as its head. The breeding plumage is mottled brown on top with reddish tones for the under parts. The bill is black and the legs yellowish. The winter plumage is mainly grey. Sexes are similar. It is almost 30 cm long (12 inches).
NAME: The English name is from Iroquois and the Latin name refers to racing in a marsh, with the adjective ‘griseus’ meaning ‘grey’.
HABITAT: Mudflats, wetlands, grasslands.
DIET: Invertebrates. This bird feeds by inserting its bill vertically in the ground probing for its prey, in sewing machine-like fashion.
NESTING: Cup-shaped structure in a well-sheltered area. The nest is made of plant material and lined with feathers. Four green eggs are laid. Chicks are on their own right from birth.
DISTRIBUTION: The short-billed dowitcher breeds in muskegs of the boreal forest. Its wintering range includes coastal habitats from the southern USA down to the northern part of South America. Some vagrants will spend the winter on Pacific Islands such as Hawaii (see note below on bird vagrancy).
Distribution map:
ON PEI:  This dowitcher is only seen in Prince Edward Island in the summer and the fall during its migration south, and then it can be very common.
CONSERVATION: Not much is known about the population trends of this species, but it is still considered as of ‘least concern’.
Vagrancy: In biology this means an animal going way outside its normal range. For birds, this can happen when there are storms and they get blown off course. On other times, the bird simply wanders in a different direction than usual. Here’s an article about vagrancy in birds.
SIMILAR SPECIES: Long-billed Dowitcher: The short-billed dowitcher is very similar to the Long-billed Dowitcher. The two species can be differentiated by their call, not by the bill length in spite of their names. This is because there is overlap between the species in terms of bill length.

Short-billed Dowitcher - Sunset Beach, NC - photo by Dick Daniels
Short-billed Dowitcher – Sunset Beach, NC – Dick Daniels
Short-billed dowitcher - Indian River area - Aug. 26, 2017 - © Chris Rice
Short-billed dowitcher – Indian River area – Aug. 26, 2017 – Chris Rice