For those of you who haven’t heard of dowitchers, well, maybe we should leave it that way.
Identifying dowitchers is the migraine headache of birding. (Or does Empidonax Flycatcher ID gets that honour?)
Short-billed (SBD) and Long-billed (LBD) Dowitchers are large shorebirds that look very similar. Their names aren’t helpful. Both have long bills. You must resort to plenty of studying to figure out how it ID them. Luckily, there is plenty of reference material. If you care.
If you get bored of identifying them by field marks, you can read up on how to ID them by, (deep breath)... the angle formed by drawing a line between the tip of their bill and the back of their head, and another between the beginning of the bill, though their eye and to the top of their head. The degree of the angle averages higher on SBD.
Rehearsing the rules in my head I ventured out to find a dowitcher to ID. One probed the mud across a slough. I zoomed the spotting scope onto it. I studied its characteristics. It was a Long-billed Dowitcher. It flew off, chattering the flight call of a Short-billed Dowitcher.
I can identify dowitchers with confidence and sometimes accuracy!