Photo Quiz: Fall Dowitcher ID

Quiz 1-A. June or July (year?) at Prineville sewer ponds. Photo by Chuck Gates.

Comments from Greg Gillson: The barred tertials, without any pale fringes, is a characteristic of adult breeding (alternate) plumage. Short-billed would show more definite round spotting on the breast and a paler belly. I'd go with a worn alternate plumaged fall Long-billed on this one.

Comments from Phil Pickering: "Definitely adult based on rounded scap/covert tips and upperparts barring & breast spotting. It's hard to judge underparts color because the photos look color-shifted due to age or overexposure, but the amount of color on the underparts combined with the apparent minimal or worn underparts markings suggests Long-billed to me. I don't really see any markings extending much into the feather interiors as they more typically do (in places) on alternate caurinus - the markings in general are more confined towards the feather tips - more typical of Long-billed. The lack of obvious primary extension beyond the tertials also suggests Long-billed."

Quiz 1-B. July 10, 2004, Fernhill Wetlands, Forest Grove, Oregon. Photo by Greg Gillson.

Comments from Greg Gillson: The barred tertials, without fringes or internal swirls indicate adult breeding plumage. Notice all the gray-brown "winter" wing feathers molting in. Only an adult would molt into non-breeding plumage in July. Where is the rufous breast? Worn, faded, and perhaps molted to a dull brown. And look at the extensive whitish belly. This can only be Short-billed Dowitcher.

Quiz 2. August 18, 2002. Photo by David Tracy.

Comments from Greg Gillson: Pale fringes and patterns to tertials indicate juvenile Short-billed.

Comments from Phil Pickering: "Again, the image quality makes this really tough, but there does appear to be extensive patterning in the tertials diagnostic of Short-billed."

Quiz 3. Second week of September, 1998, Bandon Harbor. Photo by Steve Dowlan.

Comments from Greg Gillson: Bright, highly-patterned upperparts--especially the widely-fringed tertials--with extensive internal markings make the ID straight-forward: juvenile Short-billed Dowitcher.

Comments from Phil Pickering: "Hard to judge patterning, particularly on the underparts, but if nothing else, the pointed shape to the scaps/coverts is indicative of juvenile, and there appears to be extensive patterning in the tertials and a little in the coverts. The uniform coloration (no contrasting gray head/face) also supports juvenile Short-billed vs. juvenile Long-billed."

Quiz 4. September 14, 2002, at Mann Lake, Nez Perce Co., Idaho. Photo by Jane Westervelt.

Comments from Greg Gillson: The left-most bird in the upper photo has the very long bill of a female Long-billed. The pale-fringed, but otherwise plain, tertials of all three birds identify them as juvenile Long-billeds. The right-most bird is more advanced in its molt, but still retains a few juvenile scapular and tertial feathers.

Quiz 5. September 15, 2002 at Fernhill Wetlands, Forest Grove, Oregon. Photo by Bruce Craig.

Comments from Greg Gillson: Very highly colored and fringed upperparts indicate a juvenile. Though very bright and colorful on the scapulars and covert feathers, the lack of any interior markings on the tertials is diagnostic of Long-billed.

Comments from Phil Pickering: "In progressed pre-basic molt."

Quiz 6. September 19, 2002 at Fernhill Wetlands, Forest Grove, Oregon. Photo by Bruce Craig.

Comments from Greg Gillson: Basic plumage. No way to tell the species, but Short-billed Dowitcher should not be found in Oregon in this plumage--not that I recommend ID based on what should or should not be. Please note that what looks to be a black and white barred tail in the upper photo, really is not. Only the outermost 1/3 to the right is the tail feathers; most of that is the uppertail covert feathers.

Comments from Phil Pickering: "No way to tell species - tail barring looks intermediate."

Quiz 7. October 23, 2001 at Bodega Bay, California. Photo by Bruce Craig.

Comments from Greg Gillson: That very long bill on the left dowitcher could only belong to a female Long-billed Dowitcher. While this bird is primarily in basic plumage there are some colorful scapular feathers still remaining from the previous plumage. The pale fringes on the tertials seem to still be juvenile tertials, too. The rightmost bird has plain gray tertials that don't appear to have bright pale fringes. Thus, its molt into basic plumage is more complete.

Comments from Phil Pickering: "(Left bird) basic female, certainly long-billed based on body bulk and bill length that are beyond the range of Short-billed. No way to tell based on plumage. Nice back hump also supporting Long-billed."

Quiz 8. October 23, 2002 at Fernhill Wetlands, Forest Grove, Oregon. Photo by Bruce Craig.

Comments from Greg Gillson: This adult dowitcher in basic plumage shows the short wings and hump back typical of Long-billed Dowitcher. The smooth gray wash across the breast is also more typical of Long-billed in basic plumage.

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