Whimbrel

ID Info
Silhouette ShorebirdsShorebirds

Whimbrel

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

An elegant, brownish shorebird with a very long, curved bill, the Whimbrel announces itself with effervescent, piping calls. It occupies open habitats—tundra for nesting; and mudflats, beaches, and saltmarshes the rest of the year. Whimbrels feed mostly on crabs and other marine invertebrates, which they extract from sand or mud using their outrageous bills. They also eat berries and insects when available. They migrate between arctic nesting areas and wintering grounds as far south as Bolivia, sometimes having to skirt hurricanes as they fly over open ocean.

More ID Info
image of range map for WhimbrelRange map provided by Birds of North AmericaExplore Maps

Find This Bird

Whimbrels are relatively large shorebirds that live on open tundra, beaches, and mudflats, so a scan of their habitat is usually sufficient to turn them up. Along the coast, look for them on a falling or newly low tide; as the tide rises, they move to high-tide roosts, often in saltmarshes or on small islands. As with all shorebirds, they can disappear in the distance. Spotting scopes are useful for finding far-off birds and getting better looks; if you don’t have one, try joining a bird walk and the guide will likely have one. Listen for their mellow, piping whistles for advance notice that the birds are around.

Other Names
  • Zarapito Trinador (Spanish)
  • Courlis corlieu (French)
  • Cool Facts