Whimbrel Life History


Habitat ShorelinesBreeds in various tundra habitat, from wet lowlands to dry heath. In migration, frequents various coastal and inland habitats, including fields and beaches. Winters in tidal flats and shorelines, occasionally visiting inland habitats.Back to top


Food Aquatic invertebratesPrimarily marine invertebrates, especially small crabs, but also insects, berries, and even flowers during breeding season.Back to top


Nest Placement

Nest Ground

Nest Description

A shallow bowl on the ground, usually lined with leaves.

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size:2-5 eggs
Egg Description:Blue-green to brownish or buff.
Condition at Hatching:Downy and active, may leave nest within one to two hours.
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Behavior Ground ForagerIn intertidal habitats in winter, inserts bill to various depths to pick prey. Locates prey visually. Picks berries with tip of bill, releases and catches berry in throat.Back to top


Conservation Low ConcernNumbers of Whimbrel declined sharply during 19th century, because of hunting for sport and food. No definitive information is available on current population trends. The greatest current threat to the species is loss of coastal wetland habitat; environmental contamination, including cadmium wastes from mining in Chile, also poses increasing risks to the species. The North American population of Whimbrel is on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List, which lists bird species that are at risk of becoming threatened or endangered without conservation action.Back to top


Lutmerding, J. A. and A. S. Love. Longevity records of North American birds. Version 2015.2. Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Bird Banding Laboratory 2015.

North American Bird Conservation Initiative. 2014. The State of the Birds 2014 Report. US Department of Interior, Washington, DC, USA.

Sibley, D. A. (2014). The Sibley guide to birds, second edition. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, USA.

Skeel, Margaret A. and Elizabeth P. Mallory. 1996. Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA.

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