Skip to main content

Dig Imperial Beach

Bryan Brillhart Photography Presents “Dig IB” Bird of the Week, the "Long-Billed Curlew”

Aug 05, 2015 10:03PM ● 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 “Long-Billed Curlew (Numenius americanus)”

If you would like to see more of Bryan's Bird Photos you can click on this link:

Bryan Brillhart Photography


Long-Billed Curlew (Numenius americanus)”

This week’s “Bird of the Week” the long-billed curlew (Numenius americanus), is the largest North American shorebird of the family Scolopacidae. It has a very long, decurved bill, which is longer on adult females than on males or juveniles. It is mottled brown overall, with cinnamon underwings. It is similar in size, shape, and color to the Marbled Godwit, but the curlew's decurved bill distinguishes it from the upturned bill of the Marbled Godwit. The species is native to central and western North America. In the winter, the species migrates southwards, as well as towards the coastline.

Long-billed Curlews eat insects, marine crustaceans, and bottom-dwelling marine invertebrates. The remarkably long, downcurved bill allows curlews to forage for earthworms and during nesting, males begin by making a simple, shallow scrape in the ground. Females also contribute, using the breast and bill to shovel out a depression in the ground for nesting. Once the depression is formed, materials such as pebbles, bark, animal droppings, grass, stems, twigs, and seeds are all possible materials used for lining the nest, which is about 8 inches across and 3 inches deep.

Long-billed Curlews are often seen probing for food during the breeding season in groups, in pairs, or by themselves. Around the nest, however, curlews are highly territorial and exhibit a variety of threat displays. When flying, curlews jump into the air to take off and then alternate between flapping and gliding. I am always struck by the incredibly long bill of this bird when I encounter them in our own Tijuana Estuary. Get out and enjoy the great variety of bird species we are blessed with in Imperial Beach.




Like what you're reading? Subscribe to Dig Imperial Beach's free newsletter to catch every headline