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Long-billed Curlew

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The long searching bills of the shorebirds reach their zenith in the Long-billed Curlew. With a head and ridiculous downcurved bill about the same length as the rest of its body, it can reach crabs and shrimp buried deep in the sand and mud.

Long-billed Curlew
NUMENIUS AMERICANUS
• Length: 23 inches
• Wingspan: 35 inches
• Season: Winter
More about Long-billed Curlews.
Where they are, and when.
Long-billed Curlews are the largest shorebird. They are similar in appearance to Whimbrels, which have a much shorter bill, more distinct barring on their breasts and stripes on their crowns. The Curlew’s mottled coloring, buff breast and cinnamon underwings are closer to those of the Marbled Godwit, but that bird’s bill is thicker and curves upward. Female Curlews have slightly longer bills than the males.

Long-billed Curlews spend summers in the fields and prairies of western North America as far south as the Panhandle before migrating to the West and Gulf coasts and Mexico, where they frequent wetlands, bays, mudflats and beaches, often congregating in small groups. Arrivals on the Gulf Coast begin as early as July and their spring departure begins as early as February.

They walk steadily as they forage, picking at the ground or digging more deeply with their bills. In addition to crabs and shrimp they will eat insects, mollusks, worms and other marine invertebrates.

About Scott Clark

I’m a digital journalist who’s worked as a photographer, reporter, producer and editor. My interest in the natural history of my surroundings reaches back to my early days beachcombing on the Jersey coast, rowing my boat on a quiet lake in Missouri and, more recently, discovering the mountains and backwoods of Montana, where I was born.

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