Wednesday, October 24, 2012

IDing Challenge: It's time to do or Dowitcher

This is the ultimate for me. It's not that the Dowitcher complex (Short-billed vs. Long-billed) is the most difficult to discern in the bird world. Differentiating silent Trail's Flycatchers or Pacific-Slope/Cordillerans in overlapping range can be more challenging, or at least there's less to tell them apart. And yet when trying to compare these two Dowitchers in photos and field guides, in the wild and in memory, I cannot keep them apart. Living in Phoenix, I have it pretty easy. There's a 99% chance that any Dowitcher in the middle of Arizona is a Long-billed. 

But earlier this autumn I went to the Salton Sea, where the two species are known to intermingle in this overlapping range. With excitement and trepidation, I set out to tell the two apart, and to definitively add Short-billed to my life list. It is now at great risk and with much anxiety that I submit these photos to you all. For my money, they're all still Long-billed...