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About Curlews

This page contains information about Curlews, including links to useful videos on our YouTube channel. Check out our Resources page for additional information about survey and monitoring of breeding Curlews.

At 68,000 breeding pairs, the UK currently holds approximately a quarter of the global Eurasian Curlew population, with estimates for England of about 30,000 pairs. However, national monitoring data, coordinated by BTO, show that this population has been in long-term decline since the 1970s and has almost halved in the UK over the last 20 years. In lowland southern England the population has declined to just 500 pairs, with many colonies on the verge of local extinction.

 

Britain also supports some 125,000 wintering Curlew, numbers of which have declined by more than 25% in 25 years. Many of these birds breed in continental Europe. As a result of Europe-wide population declines, Curlew is listed as vulnerable to extinction in Europe, and globally, is considered near threatened.

As part of World Curlew Day 2021, the Curlew Recovery Partnership hosted an online seminar featuring four expert guest speakers talking about Curlews and their conservation. These can be viewed on our YouTube channel by clicking on the titles below:

Dr Samantha Franks (BTO): Curlews at a crossroads: reasons for their decline and hope for their conservation

Dr Geoff Hilton (WWT): Lowland Curlews: what we know, what we don't know, what we're doing

Amanda Perkins (Curlew Country): An overview of the work of Curlew Country

Chloe Palmer (Peak District Farmer Clusters): Farmer Clusters and the Curlew: a mechanism for species recovery?

COMING SOON: The CRP 'Introduction to Curlews' slide pack, available to download and to view as a narrated talk on our YouTube Channel. 

Several of our Steering Group organisations and partners already provide excellent online resources about Curlews and their conservation, including information about their ecology and field identification. A selection are provided below:

https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/curlew/

https://www.wwt.org.uk/discover-wetlands/wetland-wildlife/curlews/

https://www.gwct.org.uk/action-for-curlew/about-curlew/

https://app.bto.org/birdfacts/results/bob5410.htm

http://www.curlewmedia.com/what-is-a-curlew

A research paper by Dan Brown and co-authors in British Birds in Nov 2015 is widely regarded as one of the primary triggers for the rapid upsurge in conservation interest in Curlews; the abstract is copied here: "Based on its adverse global conservation status, and the global importance but rapid decline of the UK’s breeding population, the Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata should now be considered the UK’s highest conservation priority bird species. A co-ordinated UK recovery programme is urgently required to help ensure that this species does not suffer the same fate as that of some other Numenius species". To read the full paper click the link below:

https://britishbirds.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Brit.-Birds-108-660–668.pdf

The excellent WaderTales website includes many features on Curlews, click the link below for a review of 2020 blogs:

https://wadertales.wordpress.com/2020/12/27/wadertales-blogs-in-2020/

An excellent resource for the wide repertoire of Curlew calls and songs can be found here:

https://www.xeno-canto.org/species/Numenius-arquata

Finally, for a global perspective, see the BirdLife International factsheet for Eurasian Curlew here:

http://datazone.birdlife.org/species/factsheet/eurasian-curlew-numenius-arquata