Curlew (Genus: Numenius) - Wiki
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[Photo] Long-billed Curlew (Numenius americanus). Fishing Pier, Goose Island State Park, Texas. Source: http://www.naturespicsonline.com/ Author Alan D. Wilson, www.naturespicsonline.com
Curlew ([??k??ː??ljuː]) is the common name for the bird genus Numenius, a group of eight wader species, characterised by a long slender downcurved bill and mainly brown plumage with little seasonal change. They are one of the most ancient lineages of scolopacid waders, together with the godwits which look similar but have straight bills (Thomas, 2004). In Europe "Curlew" usually refers to one species, the Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata.
Curlews feed on mud or very soft ground, searching for worms and other invertebrates with their long bills. They will also take crabs and similar items.
The stone-curlews are not true curlews (family Scolopacidae) but members of the family Burhinidae, which is in the same order Charadriiformes, but only distantly related within that.
Species in taxonomic order
- Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus
- Slender-billed Curlew Numenius tenuirostris - critically endangered, possibly extinct (early 21st century?)
- Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata
- Long-billed Curlew Numenius americanus
- Far Eastern Curlew Numenius madagascariensis
- Little Curlew Numenius minutus
- Eskimo Curlew Numenius borealis - critically endangered, possibly extinct (early 2000s?)
- Bristle-thighed Curlew Numenius tahitiensis
The Late Eocene (Montmartre Formation, some 35 mya) fossil Limosa gypsorum of France was originally placed in Numenius and may in fact belong there (Olson, 1985). Apart from that, a Late Pleistocene curlew from San Josecito Cave, Mexico has been described. This fossil was initially placed in a distinct genus, Palnumenius, but was actually a chronospecies or paleosubspecies related to the Long-billed Curlew (Arroyo-Cabrales & Johnson 2003).
The Upland Sandpiper (Bartramia longicauda) is an odd bird which is the closest relative of the curlews (Thomas, 2004). It is distinguished from them by its yellow legs, long tail, and shorter, less curved bill.
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