Short-billed Dowitcher photo by Dave Lewis.
Sure the economy is tight, but that is not the type of flexible billing this post is about.
There were no Short-billed Dowitchers in attendance at the recent Shreve Migration Sensation –their peak migration is not until May- but, their cousins the Snipe were found in good numbers. And while studying them, our conversation soon turned to the amazing flexible tip of their mud-probing bills. Not only are the tips flexible, as this impossible-looking photo shows, they are also sensitive to touch, enabling the discovery of dowitcher delectables buried in the sand and mud.
The adaptations of shorebirds, and their specific food niche can be a study in and of itself. The better birders can often tell the species of bird by the depth of water and signature style of foraging. Mannerism or habitat is often the key to a bird's ID, so you’ll want to pay attention to those subtle clues. Sorting these divas of the mud flats can be a real challenge for a Weedpicker, so I need all the clues I can get.