Whether displaying for a female or using its bill to catch deep-burrowing prey like earthworms, this is one impressive bird.

Long-billed Curlew map, NatureServeIt's formally classified as a shorebird, but Long-billed Curlew is most commonly found on grassland habitats on its North American breeding grounds and on southern wintering grounds, including Mexico. Unfortunately, grasslands are one of the most threatened habitats in the Americas.

Goodbye Grasslands?

It follows that the main threat to the Long-billed Curlew is loss of habitat, as grasslands—in both the north and the south—are increasingly taken over for agriculture, development, or recreational use. Invasive plants such as yellow starthistle make habitat unsuitable for curlew nesting, and pesticides may reduce availability of the birds' prey, particularly grasshoppers.

The Long-billed Curlew's declining numbers in the Great Plains and disappearing breeding and wintering habitat make it a high-priority species for conservation throughout its range. This species is on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List.

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Long-billed Curlew, Dennis W. Donohue, Shutterstock

Long-billed Curlew by Dennis W. Donohue, Shutterstock

Conservation for Curlews

ABC's Migratory Birds Program is supporting projects aimed at conserving habitat needed by the curlew in all phases of its life cycle. On the North American breeding grounds, we are cooperating with farmers, ranchers, and government agencies to promote land management practices most helpful to breeding curlews and other species of concern, like Chestnut-collared Longspur and Sprague's Pipit.

In Mexico, with local partners like Pronatura Noreste, we are restoring critical wintering habitat for the species, such as El Tokio Grassland Priority Conservation Area. In this area, the curlew shares space with Worthen's Sparrow, an Alliance for Zero Extinction species. Sustainably raised cattle now play the role bison once did in a program that helps both birds and ranchers.

(Watch a video that shows how conservation and ranching can go together! Prefer to read? Story is here.)

Get Involved

We welcome all and every effort to help us "bring back the birds." If you would like to make a donation, please click here. Or visit our Get Involved page to learn more about how you can help. Together, we can make a difference for this special bird.

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