Bird #206 — Short-billed Dowitcher

limnodromus (marsh runner) griseus (grizzled)

Friday, May 15, 1981 — 7:15 am

Hoffman Estates, Illinois — Poplar Creek Forest Preserve — Bode and Barrington Roads

The slough where I saw these birds is two miles down Bode Road from where work moved their headquarters in 1989.  I passed it every day on the way to work from Des Plaines.  It has proven to be a productive spot.  I’ve spotted Black Terns, Bonaparte’s Gulls, Western Sandpipers, Black-crowned Night Herons and a wide variety of other birds here over the years.  Most years it only fills with water in the spring and fall.  I can only remember one year when it had water all summer long, and it was filled with shorebirds a lot of the time.

I stopped here the first time on my 1981 big day.  The Short-billed Dowitchers were preening on mud flats in the middle of the slough.  One started wading in the water, then flew to another mud flat and began foraging again.  It rapidly jabbed its bill up and down in the mud and water.  When it glided in to land, I could see the long, white wedge that extended up its back.

The Dowitchers were bird number 26 for the day.  I kept at it until 6:00 p.m. and saw a total of 90 birds, 10 short of my goal but pretty good for a beginner.

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