Little Curlew, Little Whimbrel  |  

Numenius minutus

The Little Curlew is the smallest curlew with an average length of 28–31 cm, wingspan of 68–71 cm and weight of 175 g (Birds Australia 2010; Higgins & Davies 1996). Breeding and non-breeding plumage of adults is similar in the Little Curlew. Adult birds have strongly patterned heads, with a blackish crown, a narrow buff coloured median crown stripe, and a broad pale supercilium (eyebrow). A short blackish-brown eyestripe which is broader at the front but does not reach the bill also distinguishes the species. Lores are buff and ear coverts pale buff with fine brown streaking. The neck and breast is off white and streaked with dark brown, while the remaining underparts are white with dark brown bars noticable on the flanks. The mantle feathers, scapulars and underwing coverts are blackish-brown fringed and notched in buff. The tertial feathers are barred brown to light brown with buff notches. The bill is black-brown with a pink base to the lower mandible. The Little Curlew has a dark brown iris, and bluish-grey legs and feet (Geering et al. 2007). Juveniles are similar to adults in plumage; however the crown appears more black-brown with an indistinct median crown stripe. Scapulars, wing coverts and mantle feathers are notched and fringed in off white instead of buff, and the streaking on the breast and flanks is less extensive and paler (Geering et al. 2007).

Government evidence of impact of climate change:

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  • Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, Species Profile and Threats Database, Numenius minutus

    Climate change Global warming and associated changes in sea level are likely to have a long term impact on the breeding; staging and non breeding grounds of migratory waders (Harding et al. 2007 Melville 1997).