Eurasian Curlew

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Common Name: Eurasian Curlew
Scientific Name: Numenius arquata

Size: 21 ½ inches (50-57 cm)

Habitat: Europe and Asia; widely distributed, breeding across Europe from the British Isles, through north-western Europe and Scandinavia into Russia extending east into Siberia, east of Lake Baikal. It winters around the coasts of north-west Europe, the Mediterranean, Africa, the Middle East, the Indian Subcontinent, South-East Asia, Japan and the Sundas. The species breeds on upland moors, peat bogs, swampy and dry heathlands, fens, open grassy or boggy areas in forests, damp grasslands, meadows, non-intensive farmland in river valleys, dune valleys and coastal marshlands. Non-breeding: During the winter the species frequents muddy coasts, bays and estuaries with tidal mudflats and sandflats, rocky and sandy beaches with many pools, mangroves, saltmarshes, coastal meadows and muddy shores of coastal lagoons, inland lakes and rivers. It also utilizes wet grassland and arable fields during migration.

Status: Near Threatened. Global population: 770,000-1,065,000 with a decreasing population trend. Threatened by the loss and fragmentation of moorland habitats as a result of afforestation and of marginal grassland habitats as a result of agricultural intensification and improvement (e.g. drainage, inorganic fertilization and reseeding). The species also suffers from high egg and chick mortalities (due to mechanical mowing) and higher predation rates if nesting on improved grasslands. Conversely populations in the central Asians steppes have declined following abandonment of farmland and subsequent increases in the height of vegetation, rendering large areas unsuitable for nesting. It has also suffered population declines as a result of hunting, and is susceptible to avian influenza so may be threatened by future outbreaks of the virus. The European Commission have commissioned a management plan for the species which has been updated for 2007-2009. The species occurs in a large number of protected areas throughout its range and features in several national monitoring schemes. This is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.

Diet: Annelid worms and terrestrial insects (e.g. Coleoptera and Orthoptera) especially during the summer, although it will also take crustaceans, mollusks, polychaete worms, spiders, berries and seeds, as well as occasionally small fish, amphibians, lizards, young birds and small rodents. It feeds by probing soft mud for small invertebrates.

Nesting: Males and females look identical, but the bill is longest in the adult female. The nest is a shallow depression on the ground or on a mound in the open or in the cover of grass or sedge often far from water.

Cool Facts: This species is often referred to just as "the Curlew", and in Scotland a colloquial name is "whaup".

It is generally wary during breeding season but highly gregarious outside of the breeding season.

Scientists believed the Eurasian Curlew to be rarer than generally assumed. Following the evaluation of its population size, this was found to be correct, and it is consequently uplisted to Near Threatened status in 2008; though it is still a rather common bird, its numbers are noticeably declining.

Found in Songbird ReMix Shorebirds Volume 3: Small Waders

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