Long-billed Curlew

Silhouette ShorebirdsShorebirds

Long-billed Curlew

Numenius americanus
  • ORDER: Charadriiformes
  • FAMILY: Scolopacidae
Basic Description

North America's largest shorebird, the Long-billed Curlew, is a graceful creature with an almost impossibly long, thin, and curved bill. This speckled, cinnamon-washed shorebird probes deep into mud and sand for aquatic invertebrates on its coastal wintering grounds and picks up grasshoppers on the breeding grounds. It breeds in the grasslands of the Great Plains and Great Basin and spends the winter in wetlands, tidal estuaries, mudflats, flooded fields, and beaches.

More ID Info
image of range map for Long-billed CurlewRange map provided by Birds of North AmericaExplore Maps

Find This Bird

The silhouette of the Long-billed Curlew is unmistakable: whether standing in a shortgrass prairie or in a tidal mudflat, these birds stand out. The only other bird with a long bill is the Whimbrel, but its bill isn't nearly as long and it doesn't stand nearly as tall. On the breeding grounds look for a long neck and long bill strutting through the grasslands, often flanked by other curlews foraging in a line. During migration and on the wintering grounds, they forage in small groups and with other shorebirds including Willets and Marbled Godwits. Look for them foraging in shallow wetlands or resting with their bill tucked under their shoulder.

Other Names
  • Zarapito Americano (Spanish)
  • Courlis à long bec (French)
  • Cool Facts