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Long-billed Curlew (Numenius americanus)

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Bill Shape Equals Food Source

A fine woodworker has a chest full of tools, each designed for a specific task. Birds also have highly refined tools-their bills. The size and shape of a bird's bill match perfectly the food they seek and the way in which they obtain their meals. Different species of shorebirds that forage... read more »

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Sandpiper Bills

Many sandpipers have sensitive nerve receptors in their bill tips, so they can find unseen prey through touch, odor, and pressure changes - and so, feed even at night. This Long-billed Curlew (in back) sports a slender, down-curved bill that may reach nine inches long. The Bar-tailed Godwit (in... read more »

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Whistle from the Sky

In its flight display, the male Long-billed Curlew flies up with rapidly beating wings and glides down, then up again and down, stitching a series of arcs across the sky and calling all the time. Their loud flight calls warn of the presence of potential predators. Long-billed Curlews are the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  breeding display

Shorebirds - Not on the Shore

Shorebirds' lives take them to many places other than the shore. Most of the shorebirds we see along our coasts migrate to the Arctic in summer. Here, many nest on the tundra, some along rushing streams, and others on rocky mountainsides. Long-billed Curlews winter on the Florida, Gulf, and... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

Long-billed Curlew - Singing over the Grassland

The Long-billed Curlew is North America's largest shorebird, seen here in its breeding habitat, a western grassland. They may be the largest, but they're also among the rarest. Their numbers are declining as arid grasslands disappear. Because curlews depend on very different environments for... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  breeding display, migration

Probing with Sandpipers

The variety of bill sizes and shapes among the sandpipers is astounding! Many sandpipers have sensitive nerve receptors in their bill tips, so they can find unseen prey through touch, odor, and pressure changes. Those sandpipers with long, straight bills - like this Long-billed Dowitcher - are... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

Revitalized Bird Habitat at Owens Lake

The dry lakebed of Owens Lake, in Eastern California, was once a major source of pollution. Today, it’s a magnet for birds like these Eared Grebes. How was Owens Lake transformed? Pete Pumphrey of Eastern Sierra Audubon, explains: “The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power was ordered to... read more »

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Matthiessen Wind Birds

In The Wind Birds: Shorebirds of North America, nature writer and novelist Peter Matthiessen wrote: “The restlessness of shorebirds, their kinship with the distance and swift seasons, the wistful signal of their voices down the long coastlines of the world make them, for me, the most affecting of... read more »

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