© Copyright: Images: Jari Peltomäki, Jouko Lehmuskallio, Kari Pihlaviita, M. & W. von Wright: Svenska fåglar (Kansalliskirjasto, The National Library of Finland). Recording: Jan-Erik Bruun. All rights reserved.


Numenius arquata

  • Name also: Eurasian Curlew
  • Family: Sandpipers – Scolopacidae
  • Appearance: A large wader, with a long bill that curves evenly downwards except near the base. Curlews’ heads have quite uniform colouring (compare to more striped patterning on head of similar Whimbrel). Plumage yellowish brown with fine darker patterning.
  • Size: Length 48–57 cm, wingspan 89–106 cm, weight 415–980 g. Female larger than male.
  • Nest: In a depression on dry ground in a field, in a meadow or on a hummock in a marsh. Lined with dry grass.
  • Breeding: 4 eggs laid in April–May, incubated by both parents for 27–30 days. Fledglings leave the nest soon after hatching and quickly learn to find food. They learn to fly within 40–50 days.
  • Distribution: Breeds in farmland and marshes far north as Oulu and North Karelia, only rarely further north. Does not breed in Northern Lapland. Has declined in Southern Finland. Finnish breeding population estimated at 80,000 pairs.
  • Migration: May migrate by day or night. Females may already start migrating away from their breeding areas at the end of May or in early June, males and juveniles fly south in July and August. Finland’s breeding Curlews winter in Western Europe and return in April–May.
  • Diet: Invertebrates, also berries.
  • Calls: Melodic, haunting and far-carrying “cur-lee”. Birds on migration make “kwee” or “kwee-kwee” calls.
  • Endangerment: Near threatened (also globally), protected. European red list status Vulnerable.

The Curlew is the largest wader found in Finland. Its plumage is uniformly yellowish brown with darker brown patterning. In flight a white wedge-shaped rump patch is striking. Curlews’ bills are long, grey, and clearly downcurved, except near the base. Their heads are fairly evenly coloured, and lack the distinctive stripes usually visible on the cap of the related Whimbrel. Curlews have brown irises and their beaks are ivory-coloured near the base but become darker towards the tip.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family

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