Skip to content

Slender-billed Curlew

Numenius tenuirostris


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

EDGE Score

EDGE Score: 5.22 (?)
ED Score: 10.6 (?)
GE / IUCN Red List (?)
Not Evaluated Data Deficient Least Concern Near Threatened Vulnerable Endangered Critically Endangered Extinct in the Wild Extinct


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.

Find out more

Conservation Actions

For each key category of conservation action, we calculated a conservation attention score based on expert information. In this graph, a higher score means the action is being carried out more intensively over more of the species range. The colour shows how important each action is considered to be for the conservation of this species.

Engaging stakeholders
Addressing threats
Status of knowledge
Management plan
Capacity building
Behaviour change
Awareness raising
  Score: 100 means the activity occurs at high level across more than 75% of the species range
Very Low

Overall Conservation Attention

We combined all of the expert information on conservation actions to calculate an overall conservation attention score for this species. Please help us to reach our goal of establishing dedicated conservation attention at “High” levels for all EDGE species.

Very Low Low Medium High

More information

Recent studies have grouped all possible conservation activities for any species into nine key categories (Washington et. al 2015). For each action, we asked experts for each species to assess the extent to which that action is being carried out and how much of the species’ range that action occurs in. For each action we used these two pieces of information to calculate the conservation attention score per action. A score of 100 means that the action is being carried out to a high level across at least 75% of the species range. We then combined the scores for all actions into an overall conservation attention score for the species. The experts also judged how important each category was to the conservation of that particular species.

This wordcloud illustrates the threats facing this species. The size of each word indicates the extent of a species range that is affected by that threat (larger size means a greater area is affected). The colour of the word indicates how much that threat impacts the species (darker shades of red mean the threat is more severe).

Crops Hunting Ecosystem changes

Threat wordcloud key:

Small area affected
Large area affected
Least severe
Most severe
Severity unknown
Source: The IUCN List of Threatened Species. Version 2017.1.
Available at: