Like all curlews, this species has cryptic (meaning it employs markings and colouration serving to camouflage itself in its natural environment) plumage and a long, down-curved bill.
The curlew’s long bill has evolved to probe for invertebrates deep in the mud, although the birds will pluck prey from water’s surface too. This similarity in appearance has been very problematic when it comes to identification in the field. There have been no confirmed records of the Slender-billed Curlew since it was last observed in Morocco in 1995, and no nests have been documented since 1924, when they were found in Siberia, Russia. This lack of information on the species’ movements has been detrimental to conservation efforts. As a migratory species, the curlew can pass through many countries and it faces different threats along its migration route. Much of the steppe grasslands and wetlands that the bird stop uses throughout its range has been degraded or converted to agriculture. There are eight species of curlew, all of which make up the genus Numenius.
- Order: Charadriiformes
- Family: Scolopacidae
- Population: <50
- Trend: decreasing
- Size: 36-41cm
The Slender-billed Curlew was recorded between 1909 and 1925 breeding in a small area of Siberia in Russia. Its migratory route and wintering grounds are thought to include Albania, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Libya, Kazakhstan, Macedonia, Montenegro, Morocco, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Yemen.
Habitat and Ecology
Along the migratory route, the curlews are thought to use various habitat types such as tidal mudflats, wetlands, saltpans, saltmarshes and steppe grasslands. It spends the winter months at inland, marshes. Little is known about their diet, but there is evidence they feed on earthworms, molluscs, crustaceans and insects.