Biodiversity Fact File: Curlew

Thursday 10th March 2016


Part of our series of biodiversity fact files looking at species that appear locally and are considered "at risk"

The UK is home to 17% to 25% of the global population of the Eurasian curlew, and the island has a resident breeding population.

Classified as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List, the RSPB has identified a 45% decline in UK breeding numbers in recent years, and the bird is recognised as a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.

Curlew are large wading birds, measuring 20 to 24 inches long (roughly the same size as a female pheasant), with brown/grey plumage and long legs.

The birds have a very distinctive call, a bubbling “cur-lee” sound and a distinctive downward curving beak (slightly longer in females). They can be identified in flight by a distinctive white wedge on their rump.

There is a resident breeding population of curlew living on the island all year around, and a number of migratory birds arrive each June. The best places to spot them are at the Ayres, but you may also see, and hear, them around the Ballaugh Curragh and near the Braaid.

The birds breed in heath lands, such as those found at the Ayres then, once their breeding season ends in July, they move to feeding grounds on estuaries and near coasts.

Their diet consists mainly of worms, shellfish and shrimps.

More information

Read about the curlew on the Wildlife Trust’s species list

Listen to curlew’s call on the RSPB’s bird identifier guide

Find details about the curlew on the IUCN Red List

Want to see a curlew? Try listening out for them on our reserves at Close Sartfield in Ballaugh, Cronk y Bing in Bride, and at the Ayres nature reserve.

Find out more about our island's biodiversity

Read about the Isle of Man government's biodiversity strategy

Tagged with: Ayres, Biodiversity, Birds, Close Sartfield, Cronk y bing, Curlew, Nature reserves