Curlew

Latin name: Numenius arquata

Family: Scolopacidae

The curlew is Europe’s largest wading bird. It is a distinctive species that can be identified by its large size and long, downward-curving bill which it uses to probe into the ground for food such as worms and insects. The female curlew normally has a longer bill than the male but the difference is not always obvious. The name curlew is derived from the bird’s distinctive ‘curl-oo’ call that can often be heard on both the wintering and breeding grounds. When they return to the breeding areas their characteristic bubbling call can be heard as the birds perform their territorial displays.

The Yorkshire Dales National Park provides a nationally-important habitat for the curlew and is home to a large number of breeding pairs. Survey work here in the early 1990s located around 2,500 pairs nesting on moorland areas. Further surveys found 1,500 pairs on enclosed pastures and meadows during 2000. The conservation of this species in the National Park is on-going. The curlew arrives at its breeding grounds in early spring and the appearance of large flocks of several hundred birds makes a dramatic sight within several of the National Park’s low lying areas.

At risk?

The curlew population has previously suffered from decline, the RSPB has allocated an Amber conservation status to the bird and it is a UKBAP priority species.

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Wharfedale in Yorkshire is a valley favoured by nature and enriched by romance. From 'Wharfedale' by Ella Pontefract & Marie Hartley

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