Eurasian Curlew  |  

Numenius arquata


The Eurasian Curlew is a large (length: 50–60 cm; weight: 410–1360 g) shorebird with long legs and a long, down-curved bill. Sexes are similar, though the male has a shorter bill. The juvenile is distinguishable with close views. In breeding plumage, the head, neck and upper mantle are pale buff-brown with dark streaks on the head and neck, and dark blotches and diffuse bars on the mantle. The lower back and rump are white, while the tail is barred pale brown and black-brown. The upperwings are pale buff-brown with dark blotches, and the flight feathers are very dark, almost black. The face is pale buff-brown with dark streaking, with an ill-defined supercilium, and a pale chin and upper throat. The upper breast is whitish with dark streaks, grading to heavier streaking on the lower breast, forming a bib, and streaking continues onto the belly, vent and undertail coverts. The underwing is white, variably streaked and spotted. The eyes are brown, the bill is dark horn with a pinkish or reddish base, and the legs and feet are blue-grey to olive-grey. In non-breeding plumage the species is similar, but duller and drabber, losing the buff tone, and the underparts below the chest become whiter, making the bib on the breast more obvious. The juvenile appears similar to adults in breeding plumage, except the buff tones are paler, the streaking on the underparts is finer, and the belly and vent are whiter. The species tends to occur in flocks, but vagrants are more likely to occur singly.

Government evidence of impact of climate change:

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  • IUCN Red List Assessment, Numenius arquata

    Climate change is projected to have a large negative impact on this species during the breeding season (Huntley et al. 2007; Renwick et al. 2012).

    Marked increase in numbers of staging and wintering Curlews in Denmark following improved protection and climate amelioration .

    Modelling changes in species’ abundance in response to projected climate change.