Asian dowitcher

   ›      ›   Asian dowitcher - Limnodromus semipalmatus

The Asian dowitcher (Limnodromus semipalmatus) belongs to the family of sandpipers, snipes and dowitchers, Scolopacidae.

The Asian dowitcher species is distributed in Russia, Mongolia, China, India, southeast Asia and Australia. This dowitcher species is listed by IUCN as Near Threatened. These dowitchers are monotypic species.
Overview & Quick Facts Description & Identification
Pictures of Asian Dowitcher Distribution & Range
Ecosystem & Habitat Diet & Feeding Behavior
Breeding Habits Migration & Movement Patterns
Conservation & Survival IUCN Status
Taxonomy & Classification Bird World

Appearance, physical description and identification

The Asian dowitcher (Limnodromus semipalmatus) is a large dowitcher, measuring 30 to 35 cm in length and weighing 130 to 250 grams. The wingspan is 55 to 60 cm.

The adult Asian dowitchers have a marked seasonal variation in plumages. The breeding birds have chestnut-red face, neck, breast and flanks. There are whitish bars on the side of the breast. The upperparts are brownish black with pale brown patterns.

The non-breeding Asian dowitcher has mottled grayish-brown upperparts. It has streaked grayish brown forehead, crown and nape. A gray lore passes through the eye. There is whitish supercilium. The underparts are whitish with gray mottling. The white tail is barred brownish black.

The bill of these species is long, straight, dark and appears slightly swollen at the tip. The irises are blackish. The legs are long and dark. In flight, the feet extend beyond the tail. The dowitcher call is a short, plaintive, yelping "chwep..chwep" sound.
Indian birds - Picture of Asian dowitcher - Limnodromus semipalmatus
1.Birds of India - Image of Asian dowitcher - Limnodromus semipalmatus by Alnus


Birds of India - Photo of Asian dowitcher - Limnodromus semipalmatus
2.Indian birds - Picture of Asian dowitcher - Limnodromus semipalmatus by Alnus

Indian birds - Image of Asian dowitcher - Limnodromus semipalmatus
3.Birds of India - Photo of Asian dowitcher - Limnodromus semipalmatus by Alan M

Origin, geographical range and distribution

The Asian dowitcher species are distributed in eastern coastal India, Sri Lanka, central and northeast Asia, southeast Asia and Australia. The breeding populations of Asian dowitchers are distributed in southcentral and southeast Russia, northeast China, northern Mongolia and northern Kazakhstan.

Wintering dowitchers are distributed in eastern coastal India, Sri Lanka, southern Thailand, southern Cambodia, southern Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia and northern Australia.

In India, wintering Asian dowitchers are distributed in the states of West Bengal, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. In China, the breeding populations are found in the provinces of Inner Mongolia and Heilongjiang.

The Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA) of the Asian dowitcher species in Australia are Port McArthur Tidal Wetlands System and Roebuck Bay. The IBA in Russia are Barluksko-Sayanskaya floodplain of Oka river, Kuitunskaya foreststeppe, Blagoveschenskaya and Selenga delta.

The IBA of these Asian dowitcher species in Indonesia are, Solo Delta, Pesisir Pantai Jambi, Sembilang, Pesisir Riau Tenggara and Pesisir Timur Pantai Sumatera Utara. The IBA in Uzbekistan are, Tuzkan Lake and Sudochye Lake. The IBA in Thailand is Inner Gulf of Thailand.

Ecosystem and habitat

These Asian dowitcher species do not normally occur in forest. They normally occur in altitudes from 0 to 1000 meters. The artificial ecosystems of these species include aquaculture farms and salt production facilities.

The natural ecosystems and habitats of these Asian dowitcher species include, temperate wastelands, temperate grasslands, coastal lakes, mud flats, salt marshes with emergent vegetation, tide pools, freshwater wetlands, freshwater lakes, rivers, streams and river deltas.

Diet and feeding behavior

The diet of Asian dowitcher consists mainly of worms and insects. Polychaete worms and larvae, oligochaetes, small fish, terrestrial and aquatic insects, insect larvae, crustaceans and molluscs are their primary food.

These dowitchers also feed on plant material. These species forage by probing the ground in shallow waters and wet mud with their long sensitive bill. Marshy lands, shallow, sheltered marine environments and salt-pans are their usual feeding grounds.

Reproduction and breeding habits

The breeding season of the Asian dowitcher species is during May and June in most of their breeding range. These birds are monogamous and breed in small colonies of 6-20 pairs.

The nesting sites of Asian dowitcher species include freshwater wetlands in the steppes, flooded meadows and grassy marshes. The nest is usually located on mounds among reeds or on bare ground. The nest is a shallow depression lined with grass.

Migration and movement patterns

These Asian dowitcher species are mostly migratory birds. The breeding populations in Siberia (Russia), Mongolia and north-east China migrate southwards during late August and September for wintering.

The wintering populations of Asian dowitchers in south and southeast Asia and Australia make the return migration to the breeding grounds in March and April. Enroute there are several passage and stopover sites. A few small groups spend the winter in their wintering range.

Asian dowitcher - Quick Facts

  • Scientific name: Limnodromus semipalmatus
  • Species author: (Blyth, 1848)
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Macrorhamphus semipalmatus Blyth, 1848
  • Family: Scolopacidae › Charadriiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Vernacular names: English: Asian dowitcher, Chinese: 半蹼鹬, French: Bécassin d’Asie, German: Steppenschlammläufer, Spanish: Agujeta asiática, Russian: Азиатский бекасовидный веретенник, Japanese: シベリアオオハシシギ, Malay: Burung Kedidi Dada Merah
  • Other names: Asiatic Dowitcher, Oriental Dowitcher, Snipe-billed Dowitcher
  • Distribution: Russia, Mongolia, China, India, southeast Asia, Australia
  • Diet and feeding habits: insects, molluscs, crustaceans, marine worms, plant material
  • IUCN status listing: Near Threatened (NT)

Conservation and survival

The global population size of the Asian dowitcher (Limnodromus semipalmatus) is estimated to number about 23,000 individual birds. The overall population trend of the species is considered to be decreasing.

Throughout its range, the dowitcher species is reported to be very rare to locally uncommon. The generation length is 5.8 years. Its distribution size is about 5,770,000

Habitat alteration and destruction, expanding agricultural and aquaculture activities, drainage of wetlands, pollution and hunting are the main threats that are endangering the survival of this dowitcher species.

IUCN and CITES status

The Asian dowitcher (Limnodromus semipalmatus) is approaching the thresholds for being Vulnerable under the range size criterion, under the population trend criterion and under the population size criterion.

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated the dowitcher species and has listed it as "Near Threatened".

The CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) status is ‘Not Evaluated’ for Asian dowitcher (Limnodromus semipalmatus).
Taxonomy and scientific classification of Limnodromus semipalmatus
Species:L. semipalmatus
Binomial name:Limnodromus semipalmatus
IUCN status listing:
Near Threatened
The Asian dowitcher (Limnodromus semipalmatus) was formally placed in the genus Pseudoscolopax.
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1.Image source: (cropped)
Image author: Alnus | License: CC BY-SA 3.0
2.Image source: (cropped)
Image author: Alnus | License: CC BY-SA 3.0
3.Image source: (cropped)
Image author: Alan M | License: CC BY-NC 2.0 as on 10/16/17
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