National Wildlife Refuge System
 

Long-bill Curlew

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Looking for large shorebirds with long, curved bills but don't live near the beach? If you happen to live in the northwestern United States, you might be in luck. Hundreds and even a thousand miles from the coast, these cool birds spend parts of each spring and summer on short- and mixed-grass habitats, nesting far from the ocean. From the tip of the bill to the tip of the tail, long-billed curlews are about as long as Swainson's hawks, which share similar breeding territories and habitat.

The incredibly long, decurved (curving down) bill enables this largest member of the sandpiper family to probe deep into the soil for earthworms and other invertebrates on summer grassland habitats, and into burrows on tidal mudflats in search of shrimp and crabs when wintering along the coast of south Texas and Mexico.

Long-billed Curlew Data:

  • Size -Female bills average 6.7 inches long, males average 5.5 inches. Females (avg. 2.26 lbs.) are larger than males (avg. 1.53 lbs.).
  • Breeding Range - selected grassland habitats in several states (CA, NV, UT, OR, WA, MT, ID, WY, MT, CO NE, ND, SD, NM and very small sections of OK and TX)
  • Winter Range - most common in Imperial Valley of California, southern California, west Texas and eastern New Mexico, and gulf coast of Texas
  • Diet - mostly insects, crustaceans and small invertebrates
  • U.S. habitat - summer and winter: short-growth grasslands, mixed shrub-savannah; winter: coastal tidal mudflats

See it for Yourself!

While nothing can be guaranteed in the world of bird watching, long-billed curlews can be common in the proper season and habitat at these refuges:

Mid-April through Mid-August

During the winter:

Last updated: October 28, 2010