Bryan Brillhart Photography Presents “Dig IB” Bird of the Week, the “Whimbrel”
Jul 30, 2015 02:22PM
● By Paul Spear
Bryan Brillhart of Bryan Brillhart Photography presents us with the “Bird of the Week”. The column will provide a picture of a bird(s) locally photographed and we will have background on the bird. This week’s bird is the “Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus)”.
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Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus)
This week’s Bird of
the Week is the whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus), a fairly large wader though
mid-sized as a member of the curlew genus. The whimbrel is 15–19 inches in
length, 30–35 inches in wingspan, and 9.5–17.4 oz in weight. I have
seen many of these birds recently in our own Tijuana Estuary. Numbers were seriously depleted by
market hunters in late 19th century, but have recovered somewhat since. The
whimbrel is the most widespread of the curlews, nesting in the Arctic across
North America and Eurasia, wintering on the coasts of six continents. Whimbrels
tend to concentrate in flocks at a few favored spots in migration, so that the
observer sees either many of them or else very small numbers. The name
“whimbrel," originating in England, apparently began as a loose
interpretation of the bird's call. It forages by walking on open flats, picking
up items from surface or probing just below surface; despite long bill, does
not seem to probe deeply. When feeding on crabs, it may break off legs and
crush shells before swallowing the body of the crab.
Downy young leave their nest soon after hatching. Both parents tend young, but young feed themselves. Adults actively attack predators flying over nesting area, and will fly straight at human intruders, swerving aside at last moment. Age of young at first flight is about 5-6 weeks. Check out this bird and the many other species that inhabit our wonderful Tijuana Estuary.