Curlew - Numenius arquata

Alternative names
Eurasian Curlew

The Curlew is the largest European wading bird, instantly recognisable on winter estuaries or summer moors by its long, down-curved bill, brown upperparts, long legs and evocative onomatopeic call. Larger and with a bigger bill than the similar, but less common, Whimbrel which has a more prominent supercillium than Curlew. Curlews feed on mud or very soft ground, searching for worms and other invertebrates with their long bills. They will also take crabs and similar items.

Identification difficulty

Most coastal habitats, mud flats and estuaries and inland on muddy margins of reservoirs and lakes and occasionally damp fields. Greatest breeding numbers are found in North Wales, the Pennines, the southern uplands and eastern Highlands of Scotland and the Northern Isles.

When to see it

All year round. Coastal numbers build up from July and reach a peak in January and February.

Life History

Migrant/resident breeder (100,000+ breeding pairs), passage/winter visitor (160,000+ birds overwintering).

VC55 Status

Uncommon passage and scarce winter visitor, scarce breeder.

Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map

Species profile

Common names
Curlew, Eurasian Curlew
Species group:
Records on NatureSpot:
First record:
16/06/1996 (Ian Retson)
Last record:
19/02/2024 (Messenger, Nigel)

Total records by month

% of records within its species group

10km squares with records

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