The whimbrel is a large migratory shorebird with a long neck, long legs, and a long downward-curving bill, which it uses to forage for invertebrates on mudflats and sand bars in coastal areas. These long-distance migrants travel between breeding grounds in the Arctic and wintering grounds along the east and west coasts of the U.S., Mexico, and Canada.
The loss of coastal wetland habitat is one of the greatest threats to this species, which is listed on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Birds of Conservation Concern list, and is a priority species for the Atlantic Flyway Shorebird Initiative.
Location in Taxonomic Tree
Whimbrels primarily eat marine invertebrates, especially small crabs, but also insects, berries, and even flowers during breeding season. Whimbrels walk or run between pecks or probes when feeding.
Whimbrel nests are shallow bowls on the ground lined with leaves where the nest site is often protected from prevailing winds.
Adults are streaked brown with buff-colored stippled chests, and dark crowns on their heads divided by a distinct light stripe. Juveniles look similar to adults, but have light spots on their back, a less distinct crown stripe, more buff breast, and finer streaking on the neck and chest.
Whimbrels breed in various tundra habitat, from wet lowlands to dry heath. During migration, they frequent various coastal and inland habitats, including fields and beaches. Whimbrels winter in tidal flats and shorelines, occasionally visiting inland habitats.
The land near a shore.