Long-billed Curlew (Numenius americanus)

Long-billed Curlew

[order] CHARADRIIFORMES | [family] Scolopacidae | [latin] Numenius americanus | [UK] Long-billed Curlew | [FR] Courlis a long bec | [DE] Rostbrachvogel | [ES] Zarapito Americano | [NL] Amerikaanse Wulp


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Bartramia americanus
Numenius americanus NA w, wc s USA through MA
Numenius americanus americanus wc USA sw USA to Guatemala
Numenius americanus parvus sw and sc Canada to sw USA to Mexico

Physical charateristics

Note the very long, sickle-shaped bill (4endash 8 1/2 inches). Much larger than the Whimbrel and more buffy; lacks the bold crown stripes. Overhead, shows cinnamon wing linings.
In young birds the bill may be scarcely longer than that of the Whimbrel.

Listen to the sound of Long-billed Curlew

[audio:http://www.aviflevoland.nl/sounddb/L/Long-billed Curlew.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 95 cm wingspan max.: 105 cm
size min.: 50 cm size max.: 60 cm
incubation min.: 28 days incubation max.: 30 days
fledging min.: 1 days fledging max.: 1 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 5  


North America : West, Westcentral


High plains, rangeland. In winter, also cultivated land, tide flats, salt marshes.
Breeding habitat is mostly native dry grassland and sagebrush prairie. May nest in pastures that are not too heavily grazed, rarely in agricultural fields. During migration and in winter often in farm fields, marshes, coastal mudflats, in addition to gra
sslands. Even on immediate coast, may favor lawns or grassy areas.


Male displays over nesting territory with spectacular undulating flight, fluttering higher and then gliding lower, while giving loud ringing calls.
Site is on ground on open prairie, usually in rather dry surroundings. On mostly featureless terrain, often chooses site close to conspicuous rock, shrub, pile of cow manure, or other object. Nest is shallow scrape in ground, usually with sparse lining o
f grass, weeds; may have slight rim built up around edge. Eggs: 4, rarely 3-5. Pale buff to olive-buff, evenly spotted with brown and dark olive. Incubation is by both parents, 27-30 da
ys. Incubating bird may sit motionless on nest even if approached closely.
Young: Downy young leave nest soon after hatching. Both parents tend young, often leading them to marshy or damp area for better feeding; young feed themselves. Age of young at first flight varies, 32-45 days.

Feeding habits

Mostly insects. On grasslands, feeds mostly on insects, including beetles, grasshoppers, caterpillars, many others; also eats spiders, toads, and someti
mes the eggs and young of other birds. May eat many berries at times. In coastal areas, also eats crabs, crayfish, mollusks, marine worms, other large invertebrates.
Behavior: Forages by walking rather quickly over grassland or mudflats, using long bill to reach ahead and pick up insects or to probe just below the surface of mud or soil. Seldom probes more deeply.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Long-billed Curlew status Least Concern


Southwest Canada, western United States. Winters southern United States to Guatemala. Migration: Only a short-distance migrant, most wintering in southern United States and northern Mexico.

Distribution map

Long-billed Curlew distribution range map

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