The Eastern Curlew is the largest wader that visits Australia, with a
very long down-curved
bill. The female's bill is usually longer than the male's and averages
185 mm in length. It is a bulky, dark-streaked brown wader, with a long
neck and legs. When flying, the barred flight feathers are visible,
lighter under the wings and dark above. They are wary birds, quick to
take flight. Their wing beats are slow and deliberate, unlike the rapid
beats of the Whimbrel. Other names are Curlew and Australian or Sea
The Eastern Curlew is the largest curlew, with a much longer
bill and legs than the similar Whimbrel, Numensius phaeopus.
The call of the Eastern Curlew is distinctive and the long bill is
obvious in flight.
The Eastern Curlew is widespread in coastal regions .It is rarely
seen inland. It breeds in Russia and north-eastern China. On passage,
they are commonly seen in Japan, Korea and Borneo. Small numbers visit
The Eastern Curlew is found on intertidal mudflats and sandflats,
often with beds of seagrass, on sheltered coasts, especially estuaries,
mangrove swamps, bays, harbours and lagoons.
The Eastern Curlew is a migratory species, moving south by day and
night, usually along coastlines, leaving breeding areas from mid-July to
late September. Most leave again from late February to March.
The Eastern Curlew eats mainly small crabs and molluscs. Foraging by
day and night, it is slow and deliberate, stalking slowly on sandy and
muddy flats, picking from the surface or probing deep with its long
Eastern Curlews breed in the northern hemisphere on swampy moors and
boggy marshes. Both sexes have similar plumage, with the males using
their haunting calls and display flights to attract a mate and defend
their territory. The nest is a shallow depression lined with grass.