Thursday, March 12, 2015

Who's bigger?

Short-billed Dowitcher and Black-bellied Plover
Short-billed Dowitcher (left) and Black-bellied Plover (right). Mission Bay, California. February 16, 2015. Greg Gillson.
If you look in a field guide you will see that the length of the Short-billed Dowitcher is 11 inches, while the Black-bellied Plover is 11.5 inches long--very close to the same. That's measured from bill tip to tail tip. Obviously the plover is a much larger bird than the dowitcher. But unless I see them together I never realize how large the plover is in comparison!

Even the long legs of the dowitcher--used to wade out belly-deep into the water--seems stumpy compared to the legs of the plover. However, the plover spends most of its time up on the beach, rather than wading. So they aren't often seen together like this for direct comparison.

The dowitcher is twice as long as the Least Sandpiper, and usually looks big compared to the other small shorebirds around it at water's edge.