Whimbrel Identification

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The Four Keys to ID

  • Size & Shape

    A robust, large shorebird with a very long, curved bill and relatively long neck and legs. The wings are long and pointed; the tail is short.

    Relative Size

    Larger than a Willet, smaller than a Long-billed Curlew.

    Relative Sizecrow sizedcrow-sized
    • Both Sexes
      • Length: 16.9-18.1 in (43-46 cm)
      • Weight: 10.9-14.3 oz (310-404 g)
      • Wingspan: 31.5-32.7 in (80-83 cm)

Regional Differences

Only one subspecies occurs in North America (hudsonicus); another three occur in Eurasia. The four subspecies differ mostly in the pattern of tail, rump, and back. Subspecies hudsonicus is uniformly brown in this area, whereas the three other subspecies have varying amounts of white. The nominate subspecies, phaeopus, which nests from Iceland to central Siberia, has a white rump and back. The very rare subspecies alboaxillaris, which nests in the steppe of southern Russia, is similar but larger and has white underwings. In northeastern Russia, the subspecies variegatus has a brown back and barred white rump. Both phaeopus and variegatus are recorded rarely but almost annually in the United States.

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