Every single summer when I am out experiencing the mud and heat and shorebirds on the the East Pond of Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge I find myself getting into the same silent argument with myself. Which of the two most beautiful juvenile shorebirds do I think is better. Typically, I end up deciding that it is the one that is standing in front of me, too naive to realize that staying close to people is probably not a good idea. Then, invariably,shortly thereafter I spot the other species and decide that it is better. This internal debate has been going on for years and I am no closer to making a final decision.

Therefore, I turn to you, dear readers of 10,000 Birds. Which bird is the better bird? I’ll just put some pictures here with a little bit of commentary and let you take over in the comments. Please help me make up my mind and let me look less crazy to other birders who spot me fighting with myself on the East Pond.

Short-billed Dowitcher juvenile

Just look at the colors on this Short-billed Dowitcher! Every single feather is gorgeous and it is perfectly proportioned.

Least Sandpiper juvenile

But Least Sandpipers have at least as pleasing a palette and everyone knows that good things come in small packages.

Short-billed Dowitcher juvenile at Jamaica Bay

Look at this thing! Check out those primaries, those scapulars! And the big ol’ bill just adds to the appeal.

Least Sandpiper juvenile at Jamaica Bay

What’s not to like about a Least Sandpiper though? All the beauty of a dowitcher but only as long as a dowitcher’s bill.

You see my problem? Help! Which bird is better?

Written by Corey
Corey is a New Yorker who lived most of his life in upstate New York but has lived in Queens since 2008. He's only been birding since 2005 but has garnered a respectable life list by birding whenever he wasn't working as a union representative or spending time with his family. He lives in Forest Hills with Daisy and Desmond Shearwater. His bird photographs have appeared on the Today Show, in Birding, Living Bird Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, and many other fine publications. He is also the author of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of New York.