Curlew Numenius arquata

Curlew are very large, tall waders, about the same size as a female pheasant. The haunting sound of the curlew's display call ('Cur-lee') is unmistakeable and can be heard from February through to July on its breeding grounds: wet grasslands, farmland, heath and moorlands. From July onwards coastal numbers start to build up and peak in January.

Behaviour

Curlew are mottled brown and grey with long, bluish legs and a long, down-curved bill that is pink underneath. It can be distinguished from the smaller whimbrel by the longer bill and plain head pattern. When they fly, curlew have a white wedge on the rump.

Size

Length: 50-60cm Wingspan: 90cm Weight: 770-1,000g Average Lifespan: 5 years

Status

Classified as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List. Classified in the UK as an Amber List species under the Birds of Conservation Concern review and as a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.

Distribution

A breeding bird of wet grasslands and moorlands in northern England, Wales and Scotland. Common on migration at wetlands throughout the country. Winters around the coast.

When to see

January – December

Facts

An old Scottish name for the curlew is 'whaup' or 'great whaup'. Its evocative call has been immortalised in a poem, The Seafarer, dating back to 1,000 AD although it may be even older: "I take my gladness in the… sound of the curlew instead of the laughter of men".

Common name

Curlew

Species name

Numenius arquata

When to see in Scotland

January – December

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