February 2018 Shorebird of the Month
The long-billed dowitcher is difficult to separate from the short-billed dowitcher - especially at a distance. So difficult in fact, that most surveys combine the two into a single "dowitcher" listing. Unless I can hear their call and know for sure which species, I do the same. That said, it is rare for a short-billed dowitchers to come through Cheyenne Bottoms whereas the long-billed dowitcher is in my Top 10. Such a large percentage of the entire population of long-billeds use the Central Flyway each year, we can safely say that the loss of Cheyenne Bottoms would be catastrophic to their survival.
Mr. Mom: both parents incubate the eggs but the male cares for the young after hatching.
You can call him Cyrano: the long-billed dowitcher's bill is twice as long as it's head.
Oldest known long-billed dowitcher was recorded in Kansas: it was at least 8 years, 4 months old.
Habitat & Range
These shorebirds need soft, wet ground. Shallow water ( 2-3 inches deep) and soil easy to dig in is needed for feeding. Wet marshes, grasslands with rain pools and wetland shorelines are ideal. Long-billed dowitchers (Limnodromus scolopaceus) also nest in soft grass near water and don't mind dampness. They use the Pacific, Central and Atlantic flyways for migration but avoid most of the Midwest. In fact, they are unlikely to appear in eastern Kansas - but huge numbers come through Cheyenne Bottoms and Quivira in the central part of the state.
Least concern. Long-billed dowitchers saw populations declines in the late 1800s to early 1900s due to over-hunting but they have rebounded to approximately 500,000 across North America.
Cheyenne Bottoms Area Status
Common from mid-March to mid-May. Uncommon on their return flights, July-October.