Male Curlew

Curlew

Scientific name: Numenius arquata

Did you know: The Curlew, with its distinct, melodic call, has been celebrated in British folklore and poetry for centuries, symbolising the wild beauty of nature!

What Do Curlews Look Like? (how to identify them)

Curlews are the largest wading birds in Europe, recognisable by their long, downward-curved beaks, mottled brown and grey plumage, and lengthy legs. 

They’re a magnificent sight on estuaries and moorlands, embodying grace and agility in their movements.

Differences Between Male And Female Curlews

Males and females are similar in appearance, with subtle differences in size. Males typically exhibit slightly larger frames and longer bills compared to their female counterparts.

What Do Curlews Eat?

Curlews have a varied diet that includes worms, shellfish, and shrimps. Their iconic long beaks are perfect for foraging in mudflats and probing the soil for these delicacies.

Where Do Curlews Live? (inc. migration info)

Curlews are migratory birds, spending winters on tidal mudflats, saltmarshes, and farmland. During spring and summer, they migrate to upland breeding grounds, favouring rough grasslands, moors, and bogs. 

Significant winter populations are found in the UK due to migration from Scandinavia.

Bird Calls & Songs (the unique voices of Curlews)

The Curlew’s call is an evocative and haunting ‘cur-lee’, a distinctive sound of wet grasslands and coasts. This call, often heard during their breeding season, is a defining feature of the British countryside’s soundscape.

Fun Curlew Facts (kid friendly)

  • Curlews have one of the longest beaks among UK birds, perfect for finding food in mud!
  • They can change their diet seasonally, eating more shellfish in winter.
  • Curlews are excellent at camouflage, blending into their grassy and muddy habitats.
  • They have a special place in folklore and are sometimes called ‘whaups’ in Scotland.
  • Curlews are featured in an ancient poem called “The Seafarer” – dating back to 1,000 AD!
  • Baby Curlews, called chicks, start flying about five weeks after hatching.
  • The Curlew’s long, melodious call is one of the most beautiful sounds in nature.

Facts About The Curlew

Diet: Worms, shellfish and shrimps.
Bird Family: Sandpipers, snipes and phalaropes
Length: 50-60cm
Wingspan: 80-100cm
Weight: 575-1,000g (Females averaging 1,000g and males averaging 770g)
Scientific Name: Numenius arquata

The Curlew Can Be Seen In The UK During The Following Months

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

Curlew Images

Male Curlew Male
Female Curlew Female
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Hatchling
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Nestling
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Chick
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Fledgling
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Juvenile