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Conservation status: Amber

The curlew is the largest European wading bird, instantly recognisable on winter estuaries or summer moors by its long, downcurved bill, brown upperparts, long legs and evocative call.

Illustrations

Overview

Latin name

Numenius arquata

Family

Sandpipers and allies (Scolopacidae)

Where to see them

Around the whole UK coastline with the largest concentrations of found at Morecambe Bay, the Solway Firth, the Wash, and the Dee, Severn, Humber and Thames estuaries. Greatest breeding numbers are found in N Wales, the Pennines, the southern uplands and E Highlands of Scotland and the Northern Isles.

When to see them

All year round. Look in breeding habitat from April to July. Coastal numbers build up from July and reach a peak in January and February.

What they eat

Worms, shellfish and shrimps.

Population

EuropeUK breeding*UK wintering*UK passage*
-68,000 pairs 150,000 birds-

Distribution

Key

In the UK
Most of UK except parts of lowland England

Audio

David Farrow, Xeno-canto

Similar birds

Find out more