We got a comment on a previous Dead Bird Quiz that gave me cause to revisit my i.d. I believe the comment is from birder Pam Hunt, as the commenter’s email traces back to this cool blog, Birding with Sacagawea. Pam (correct me if that’s not who you are, commenter!) wrote, “I’m pretty sure Bird B is NOT a woodcock. The pattern of bicolor on the bill is proportioned wrong, and the legs, toes, and tail are WAY too long for a woodcock. I’d concur with an earlier poster on Marbled Godwit, although the timing is VERY odd…” I took another look at the bird in light of that critique, and I see how the legs might appear quite long in this image, but I would maintain that this is one of the artifacts of death that tends to make dead birds appear very different from live ones. The legs are much more extended than they would ever have been in the bird’s life, making them look way too long for a woodcock. The feathers, however, extend almost all the way to the ankle joint. In a godwit, much more of the upper leg (tibiotarsus) would be bare. It’s hard to argue the point about bill color since the bill in our bird is turned so that we are seeing the lower bill from underneath. The point is well taken, though I find bill color in death seems to fade and alter rather quickly (dead gulls, for instance, tend to lose their characteristic bill coloration after a seemingly brief span in the elements.)
I post this since I very genuinely am no expert in shorebirds (including woodcock) so I would be most pleased if any of you wished to take a second look at that bird and see what you think.
As for this post, here’s another set of dead birds and bits for us to argue about!