Long-billed Curlew

Numenius americanus

Long-billed Curlew


These birds are best identified by their long narrow bill which they use to forage for food. They are brown with speckled feathers and have long legs with webbed feet.

Range & Habitat

They are found from the southern United States (New Mexico and Texas) up through the Great Basin in southern B.C. during breeding season. Most of the mating season takes place in short native grasslands. After mating the birds flock together and migrate to various places along the coast of California and Mexico.

Diet & Behaviour

Curlews love to use their long bills to dig deep into coastal mud for worms, insects, and tasty crustaceans. When threatened by predators, males flock together to fight off the potential threat. At times these birds can look quite hilarious as they try to walk in the mudflats where they eat for their webbed feet sometimes get stuck in the mud.

Lifecycle & Threats

In May, the curlews migrate north to their grassland breeding grounds. Each bird lays up to four eggs which are incubated for 30 days. The fledglings soon leave the nest. In the past, long-billed curlews have been subjected to uncontrolled hunting regulations and have therefore dropped in numbers. Today they are threatened due to habitat loss in their grassland breeding habitat in southern B.C.


COSEWIC: Not at Risk
CDC: Yellow

More Information


Photo: Royal BC Museum