U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Eskimo curlew (Numenius borealis)

Designation: Endangered

The Eskimo curlew is a shorebird and a member of the sandpiper family.  It is approximately 12-14 inches tall with a wing spread of 26-30 inches, and a bill that is about 2 inches long.  Females lay 4 eggs in a slight depression in the tundra.  

Critical Habitat

None designated.


The Eskimo curlew is a long-distance migrant that nests in the Arctic tundra and then flies to Eastern Canada, down the western Atlantic coast to grasslands in southern South America.  On its return flight it flies through Central America, the Midwest United States, and northwestward Canada, returning to its breeding grounds in late May to early June.


Unregulated harvest resulted in the Eskimo curlew population declining precipitously and approaching extinction in the late 19th century.  Sightings of Eskimo curlew have been rare since 1900 and they have not been found in surveys in recent decades.  The last record confirmed by physical evidence is a specimen collected in Barbados in 1963. Since that time, 39 potential sightings have occurred in 22 different years; however, the reliability of these sightings is variable and none have been confirmed by physical evidence.

Conservation Efforts

Although this species is fully protected, few if any Eskimo curlew still exist. The Service has not developed a recovery plan for Eskimo curlew.


Denise Walther  (907) 456-0277

Eskimo Curlew
Eskimo Curlew


This image represents one of the few images on record ever taken of the Eskimo curlew, taken by Don Bleitz on Galveston Island in 1962.