Charles Swift. One had been reported there in recent days or weeks by various observers.
LOCALITY OF OBSERVATION
Mann Lake, east of Lewiston Orchards in Nez Perce County
HABITAT WHERE THE BIRD WAS OBSERVED
Weedy rock-strewn mud flats surrounding an irrigation reservoir surrounded by Palouse prairie (cultivated land) and the breaks dropping to Lapwai Creek and the Snake River.
SIGHTING DURATION, CONDITIONS, and EQUIPMENT USED
We watched this bird, on and off, for the better part of an hour, viewed at moderate distance across the lake from the east side looking northeast with decent light. We looked through Charles's newer model Swarovski spotting scope at power up to maybe 45X, and I probably at least tried to view it with my Bushnell Elite 10X43 binoculars.
DID YOU TAKE NOTES?
Yes, later the same day
DID YOU CONSULT A FIELD GUIDE OR OTHER REFERENCE WORK?
Yes, later the same day
WHICH GUIDE(S) OR REFERENCE(S): DID YOU CONSULT?
I took a look at Sibley at some point, even though I was already confident it was a Short-billed. Don't really recall.
DESCRIPTION OF THE BIRD(s)
These notes are copied verbatim from my eBird report (the referenced notes taken "later the same day"), which was prepared the same day as the observation:
"Presumed continuing individual. Bright juvenile bird, a bit more slender than the nearby long-billed and with a bill seemingly shorter than its cohorts'. Brighter buffy wash on breast and flanks, bright rufous cap contrasted strongly with supercillium, brightly/boldly marked upper parts including buffy/rufous fringes and internal markings on mantle and scapulars, bright rufous tiger-striping on tertials."
BEHAVIOR OF THE BIRD(s)
No notes, but it was feeding loosely with a flock of apparent long-billed dowitchers (in my experience, I more often see "vagrant" short-billed not associating with LBDO).
HOW AND WHEN DID YOU POSITIVELY IDENTIFY THE BIRD, AND WHAT CLINCHED THE IDENTIFICATION FOR YOU?
We saw it and knew almost immediately. We took the time to confirm that we were ageing it correctly (as an HY bird), at which point the identification became fairly straight forward.
HOW DID YOU ELIMINATE SIMILAR SPECIES? WHAT WERE THEY?
The bird was first aged as immature/first-year on the basis of the plain buffy breast, contrasting rufous crown, and bright rufous margins on most upper-part feather tracts. Once aged, the bod rufous barring and edges on the tertials were diagnostic for immature Short-billed.
A chunkier bird than a Stilt Sandpiper with longer thicker bill, brighter plumage including buff on breast. Longer legged and longer necked than Wilson's Snipe, with different plumage.
WHAT IS YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH THIS (AND SIMILAR) SPECIES?
I've seen these in various plumages in coastal and interior California numerous times. I've seen these either as semi-regular rarities in Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and once before in Utah. Most of the interior western birds have been hatch year birds during fall migration.
DESCRIBE YOUR GENERAL BIRDING EXPERIENCE
16-17 years, bird almost every day, PhD student studying avian ecology, term-limited former member of the Nevada Bird Records Committee and eBird reviewer for southern Nevada and Owyhee County, Idaho.
WERE PHOTO(S), VIDEO, AND/OR AUDIO OBTAINED FROM THIS SIGHTING?
FIRST ROUND VOTING:
Description and photos support identification of Short-billed Dowitcher.
Well described - the Long-billed was in the area for comparison
well described and diagnostic photos
Accept. The report appropriately ages the bird as juvenile, which is most likely the only age of the species that would be moving through Northern Idaho this late in the season. As well described in the report, the “tiger” markings in the tertials of juvenile birds are diagnostic of the species.
The report was convincing to me.
Description and photos are good.
Tough one even though we have photos to review. The observer correctly notes aging of Fall birds important and believe they have it correct in this case based on the description and photos. Noting that this individuals tertials were internally marked “bright rufous tiger striping” points to a good identification. I could not pick this mark out definitively in the photos, so have some reservations if this record make it to the next round. Observer experience does weigh into my “accept” vote.