Short-billed Dowitchers at Tommy Thompson Park in Toronto, July 2015

Adult Short-billed Dowitcher at Tommy Thompson Park (Leslie Street Spit) in Toronto, Ontario on 12 July 2015. This is the brightly-coloured hendersoni subspecies, a southbound migrant after breeding in the interior of the continent in black spruce bogs, muskegs, sedge marshes. Ron Pittaway and I walked 3 km out to the new cells where there were eight Short-billed Dowitchers, a Lesser Yellowlegs, one Least and two Semipalmated Sandpipers. Thanks to Lynn Pady and Owen Strickland for alerting us to the shorebirds.


Two hendersoni Short-billed Dowitchers, richly cinnamon-coloured below. 12 July 2015. Tommy Thompson Park is on the north shore of Lake Ontario.


Same two hendersoni Short-billed Dowitchers on 12 July 2015.


Note even width of dark and white tail bands typical of hendersoni Short-billed Dowitchers.


How to tell hendersoni Short-billed Dowitchers in breeding plumage from Long-billed Dowitchers: On these Short-billed Dowitchers you can see well-formed spots on the side of the breast in front of the bend in the wing, whereas Long-billed Dowitchers have well-formed bars in the same location on the side of the breast in front of the wing. Both species have bars on the flanks. Video of Short-billed Dowitcher feeding in the new cell at Tommy Thompson Park.


Based on the amount and pattern of spotting on the underparts, and width of the white bars on the tail, these are probably two pale hendersoni Short-billed Dowitchers. They may be birds in first summer plumage. Bills are covered in mud from probing for food. 12 July 2015.