Asian Dowitcher

Asian Dowitcher, non-breeding plumage

The Asian dowitcher (Limnodromus semipalmatus) is a medium sized wader in the sandpiper family (scolopacidae). They resemble godwits, particularly the bar-tailed godwit (Limosa lapponica), but they are actually more closely related to snipes, according to molecular clock studies.

Description and Behavior

Asian dowitchers have long, straight, black bills with a bulbous tip. The outer feathers are a mixture of dark brown with white at the tips, eventually giving way to a brick-red color when breeding.

The birds adopt a “sewing-machine” method of foraging in the shallows for insects, crustaceans, and worms, where they move their bill up and down rapidly through the mud, trawling for prey.


Asian dowitchers breed in inland Siberia and Manchuria in inland wetlands and winter in Southeast Asia and Australia, primarily on the coasts.

Source: IUCN Red List

They are a rather rare bird with a fairly precise and localized breeding and wintering ranges that are mostly monitored. However, there is an unknown but decreasing amount of adults left in the wild, making the species “Near Threatened” according to the IUCN Red List, though the last assessment was in 2016, so perhaps the data have changed.