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Bird Gallery

Long-billed Curlew

Long-billed Curlew
Long-billed Curlew

© Joseph Kennedy

Numenius americanus

Family: (Scolopacidae) Sandpipers and Phalaropes

Preferred Habitat: Prairies and fields

Seasonal Occurrence: Common fall through spring; occasional in summer.


Long-billed Curlews feed on insects, bottom-dwelling marine invertebrates, and crustaceans. They forage for earthworms, shrimp, and crabs with their especially long down-curved bill. Both male and female Long-billed Curlews help with nest building. These nests are generally placed near rocks or piles of dirt that are used as landmarks and for shade. Curlews are incredibly territorial showing a variety of threat displays around their nesting area.

Much more plentiful in the 19th century, the Long-billed Curlew declined in numbers due to habitat loss and hunting. Continued habitat loss remains a threat to the Long-billed Curlew. Long-billed Curlews are already returning to the Gulf Coast where they overwinter and can be seen currently at Bolivar Flats Shorebird Sanctuary.

Male and female Long-billed Curlews have different shaped bills. The female's bill is longer than the males. His is mildly decurved and hers is more flat. Their bill is ideal for catching shrimp and crabs living in deep burrows. While both male and female incubate the eggs, the female abandons the offspring leaving the rearing duty to the male.