Long-billed Curlew – A Little Known Bird, But Still An Inspiration

The long-billed curlew is a large wader of the shorelines of northern Europe and western Asia. It’s a sedentary bird, spending much of its time perched on rocks and low vegetation, waiting for small fish to swim by. Although often overlooked, these birds are important in their habitat. They eat small invertebrates, such as flies and beetles, and in return the long-billed curlew benefits from the food scraps these creatures leave behind.

 1. A Brief History of the Long-Billed Curlew

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The first recorded sighting of a long-billed curlew was made in Kansas in 1868 by Frank Chapman, a naturalist for the Smithsonian Institution. The bird was said to have been found on a farm near Fort Harker, Kansas, but the specimen was never collected. Chapman’s report of the bird, however, inspired ornithologists to begin looking for it in the United States.

The first long-billed curlew sighted in the United States was seen at a rest stop in New Jersey on June 22, 2012, and was reported to be moving northward toward New York State. Sightings have been increasing in recent years, with more than 30 found in New York in 2014 alone. Some speculate that this is due to the fact that fewer birds migrate through New York as a result of climate change, while others point to changes in agricultural practices, including the use of genetically modified crops, as a reason for the increase. The long-billed curlew is a long-distance migrant and is most often observed during migration season, between late May and mid-September.

In spring 2011, while birding along the San Francisco Bay, I was startled to see an adult male Long-billed Curlew, perched high atop a utility pole along the sidewalk. The male’s long tail feathers were unmistakable and I watched him for a few minutes before I noticed that his head was covered in a kind of white powder. On closer inspection, I saw that the bird was feeding. The Long-billed Curlew is a shorebird and a species known for its spectacular courtship dances. It nests along the shores of lakes, rivers and bays and feeds on insects, crustaceans, and small fish found in coastal mudflats. The Long-billed Curlew winters along coastal regions.The longest billed curlew of all time was captured in the western part of Canada. Dubbed the ‘Giant Curlew’, this specimen measures 4.8 feet long and weighs 10.5 pounds. This record-breaking bird was officially tagged in June of 2015. The bird was found by a hunter near the town of Southend, Alberta. The hunter noticed the bird was unusually large and distinctive, and called a friend who had taken notice of the same. The bird was then captured and put on display, but sadly, it died just 3 days later.

The Long-Billed Curlew description

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Long-billed Curlews (Numenius americanus) are one of the largest shorebirds in North America, weighing about 12 pounds (5.4 kg). This large, long-billed wader has a wingspan that can exceed 2 feet (61 cm).The bird is native to grasslands throughout North America and parts of Central America, but it winters in the southeastern United States. Although it has an appearance similar to a common sandpiper, the long-billed curlew is actually a true shorebird, making its diet mostly of insects, worms, small crustaceans, and mollusks. They spend the majority of their time on the ground and have an almost uncoordinated flapping motion when flying.

The Long-Billed Curlew migration

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Long-billed Curlew migration is the longest migration in North America. The birds fly over 3,000 miles to and from Central and South America. To make their journey easier, many stop to rest in the United States and Canada. These birds usually travel in flocks and stop over in cities like Chicago and Washington DC.

At the beginning of 2014, the birds began to migrate south from their breeding grounds in northern Europe and Scandinavia. For about a month, long-billed curlews (Numenius americanus) were seen in southern Britain, Ireland, France, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Poland, and Belarus. By early May, the last birds had left and they were replaced by lesser spotted woodpeckers (Dendrocopos minor).Long-billed Curlews are migrating. These large, red-headed shorebirds are moving along the Mississippi River corridor between southern Illinois and Iowa. Although they are still relatively uncommon in Illinois, they are becoming increasingly common in Iowa. To help track this migration, we’ve started monitoring their numbers with citizen science data from a free mobile app called eBird. You can track long-billed curlews in real time and submit observations to eBird through the app. Each time you see a long-billed curlew, take a quick photo, and log the location and time.

Behaviors of the Long-Billed Curlew

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Most people think of curlews as being black and white—one bird has black feathers while the other has white ones. But that’s far from the truth. Curlews are a species of sandpipers, which means they spend much of their time feeding in the shallows of the ocean. When they return to land, they rest in the marshy grasslands that are near large bodies of water. This is when they can spot prey, such as small fish, shrimp, crabs, or even water snakes. Once they’ve spotted prey, they plunge into the water to hunt for dinner. If they are unsuccessful, they repeat this process until they succeed. Because of their short attention spans, they will repeat this process sever

The Long-Billed Curlew’s Unique Breeding Cycle

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The Long-billed Curlew spends years searching for its nest site, but after finding it, it only needs to do two things for the rest of its life: lay eggs and eat worms. The birds return every year to the same spot to breed, laying eggs and feeding on the worms until they die. But just as in nature, some long-billed curlews choose to raise their young somewhere else. Some long-billed curlews have even chosen to abandon the nesting grounds and live off the land. The fact that these birds have no natural predators makes them a perfect model for studying how animals behave when faced with uncertainty and change, says the Smithsonian.

In the northern part of North America, the long-billed curlew can be seen flapping its tail across the open water from April to July. But its breeding cycle is much longer than that. Its long reproductive cycle is an adaptation that allows them to breed year after year. They are monogamous, spending winter together in large colonies, which have been estimated to be around 1.5 million birds. Long-billed curlews prefer to nest in grassy areas and have a long incubation period of between 14 and 15 days.

The Long-Billed Curlew’s eggs

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These large birds lay two or three eggs in a nest. One of the two most distinctive features of these eggs are that they are larger than the majority of eggs of other shorebirds, and they contain a mass of long, white strands, referred to as “curly hair,” that run along the sides of the egg. These curly hairs appear only on Long-billed Curlews’ eggs, making them easily identifiable as Long-billed Curlew eggs. Eggs are brownish green with a reddish, speckled appearance.

The Long-Billed Curlew’s diet

The Long-billed Curlew eats small seeds, fruits, and some insects when it’s not migrating, but as it migrates it has to eat to survive. While it’s on migration, it must eat almost every two hours and is capable of consuming 5% of its body weight daily. The Long-billed Curlew travels at a slow pace, often taking several days to reach their destination.

It turns out that the Long-billed Curlew has quite a specific diet. Its food consists mainly of insects. While that may seem like a strange diet for a bird, it is a very good diet for the Long-billed Curlew. Its primary source of nutrition comes from feeding on small bugs and snails. They consume beetles, crickets, grasshoppers, spiders, cockroaches, and termites.

 To which order does a long-billed curlew belong

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Long-billed curlews (Numenius americanus) are an endemic species of North America. Their long bill allows them to reach the insects in the top layer of grasses and eat them while they’re still alive, and the curved, hook-shaped legs allow them to perch on the ground. Curlews have blackish backs and rump and white feathers on their heads and backs. They’re often seen along roadways and in wetland areas, where they prefer shallow bodies of water.

Life Expectancy of Long-Billed Curlews

Long-billed curlew populations have declined significantly over the last century. Although there are still many long-billed curlews living on their native ranges, only a fraction survive to old age.If you’ve ever wondered how long a long-billed curlew lives, you may have come across this factoid: an estimated 5,000 years. That is correct, but it’s also wrong. While it is true that long-billed curlews have lived in North America for around 5,000 years, they only live for about 7 months (they die in the spring). So, in fact, a long-billed curlew has a life expectancy of around 4 months. The longevity of this species is similar to that of many other birds.These birds can live for up to 20 years in the wild, but often only live for 4-5 years in captivity.

International Endangered bird

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The Long-billed Curlew is one of the most endangered birds in the world. The species has been decimated over the past 40 years due to habitat loss, pollution, pesticides, and introduced predators. At the peak of its population there were more than 4 million individuals in the northernmost part of North America. But since the 1970s, the population has decreased by more than 75% because of factors such as hunting, egg collection, and poisoning. To help protect this species, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) began a project called the North American Landscape Conservation Cooperative (NALCC) in 1992, which involved the purchase of land in the Midwest and the Northern Rockies.In early November 2010, the Long-billed Curlew was threatened with extinction. There are only 2,000 left in the world and that number is decreasing fast. To keep this species from disappearing completely, biologists began a program to encourage the birds to lay their eggs in captivity. One thing they did was put out nests that were too small for the birds to lay their eggs in. After a while, the Curlews adapted and began laying their eggs in the nests. So they started putting up bigger nests, but the birds weren’t satisfied with that. They wanted a nest that was just right.

How can we protect the Long-billed Curlew

After the long-billed curlew was discovered, a group of volunteers banded together to protect it from poachers. They created a Facebook page and launched a Twitter campaign to try to spread the word. They even printed up t-shirts and handed them out at birding conferences, where people could buy a t-shirt and help support conservation efforts. But as more and more people saw the long-billed curlew on social media, many began to call the poachers names, instead of reporting poaching incidents to authorities.

One way to protect this rare bird is to stop overgrazing in places like the Midwest, where it’s been known to nest. Another is to prevent the birds from having to fly too far to their breeding grounds by maintaining grasslands and forests that are close to urban areas. And finally, we should consider removing or reducing the effects of pesticides that could harm the birds’ eggs and chicks.

In conclusion, it is estimated that only 10% of the Long-billed Curlews breed each year. The remaining 90% of the population are either non-breeders or breeders who are not participating in the annual nesting. The reason for this is that the breeding season lasts for only five weeks. So, if you want to make sure that your eggs hatch and your chicks survive, it’s important that you start collecting them as soon as they are laid. This is why it is vital to have a good quality incubator so that you can collect the eggs at the optimum time. For more info on incubators, read the blog article on How to Buy an Incubator.If you take the time to study the long-billed curlew, you’ll find out that the bird spends at least 80% of its time preening itself, cleaning its feathers and keeping its plumage in good condition. The rest of the time, it spends either hunting or searching for food. So, it has to be an efficient bird!

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