Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

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[Mystery bird] Short-billed Dowitcher, Limnodromus griseus, photographed on Bolivar Peninsula, Galveston County, Texas. [I will identify this bird for you in 48 hours]

Image: Joseph Kennedy, March 2010 [larger view].

Nikon D200, Kowa 883 telescope with TSN-PZ camera eyepiece 1/750s f/8.0 at 1000.0mm iso400.

Please name at least one field mark that supports your identification.

Review all mystery birds to date.


  1. #1 Hannah
    April 1, 2010

    Greater Yellowlegs? Or lesser?

  2. #2 Bardiac
    April 1, 2010

    I’ve been flipping through Sibley’s, trying to figure this out.

    Field marks: that’s a heck of a beak, long and robust looking. It looks too robust for the bird to be a Lesser Yellowlegs to me.

    They dark stripe through the eye stands out against lighter areas above and below. In the pictures I’m looking at of Greater Yellowlegs, there doesn’t seem to be as much of a light area below the stripe.

    I’m not seeing anything that quite fits, but I’m hoping someone who’s a better birder will help me see the field marks better.

  3. #3 Hannah
    April 1, 2010

    Sorry, changed my mind. Stripe through the eye suggests; Long Billed Dowitcher. Long-billed Dowitchers have their eyes placed at a lower angle than short billed so if it were short billed its eye would be higher up I think.

  4. #4 Rob
    April 1, 2010

    It’s not a peep, that’s for sure…it’s too big.

  5. #5 KristaKay13
    April 1, 2010

    Without a guidebook – I’d say Greater Yellow legs (large bird and thick heavy bill…I’m sure there are other options too…shorebirds are tough!

  6. #6 Murray Hansen
    April 1, 2010

    I agree with Hannah–either one of the dowitchers. It has a heavier bill than either of the Yellowlegs and the supercilium goes back of the eye. I’m looking at “The Shorebird Guide” (O’Brien et al)–with the streaking on the flanks, I’ll vote for the Short-billed Dowircher. Murray

  7. #7 psweet
    April 2, 2010

    This is definitely one of the dowitchers — at perhaps the worst time to try to ID them. It appears to me that the breast is fairly smooth, and the form of the barring on the flanks suggests non-breeding Long-billed to me, but I’m not at all certain about that.

    For one thing, I can see just a bit of fresh wing coverts — but not well enough to determine what they’re showing. Second, if the darker bars on the lower flanks are fresh, that would suggest hendersoni Short-billed. If they’re still non-breeding feathers, Long-billed.

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