Wintering flocks of Long-billed Dowitchers are muddy gray-brown birds that match their muddy foraging sites—a far cry from the intricate black, rufous, brown, and gold brocade of breeding birds on their tundra summer homes. These tubby, long-billed shorebirds plunge their bills deep into wet mud or sand to find invertebrate food. Flocks twitter at each other while feeding—a habit that sets them apart from the otherwise very similar Short-billed Dowitcher. In northern Alaska and Siberia, males court females with effervescent song flights.
The tip of a Long-billed Dowitcher’s bill has many tactile receptors called Herbst corpuscles that allow dowitchers to locate prey by touch.
Information from the All About Birds website, www.allaboutbirds.org, © Cornell Lab of Ornithology.