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Curlews, Genus Numenius


Curlew, Storspove, Numenius arquata
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The curlews, genus Numenius, are a group of eight species of birds, characterised by long, slender, downcurved bills
and mottled brown plumage. They are one of the most ancient lineages of scolopacid waders, together with the
godwits which look similar but have straight bills. 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.

Curlews enjoy a world-wide distribution. Most species show strong migratory habits and consequently one or more
species can be encountered at different times of the year in Europe, the British Isles, Iberia, Iceland, Africa, Southeast
Asia, Siberia, North America, South America and Australasia.

The distribution of curlews has altered considerably in the past hundred years as a result of changing agricultural practices.
Reclamation and drainage of marshy fields and moorland, and afforestation of the latter, have led to local decreases,
while conversion of forest to grassland in some parts of Scandinavia has led to increases there.

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.


Order: Charadriiformes
Family: Scolopacidae
Genus: Numenius

English Norsk Latin
Long-billed Curlew Langnebbspove Numenius americanus
Eurasian Curlew Storspove Numenius arquata
Eskimo Curlew Eskimospove Numenius borealis
Far Eastern Curlew Østspove Numenius madagascariensis
Little Curlew Dvergspove Numenius minutus
Whimbrel Småspove Numenius phaeopus
Bristle-thighed Curlew Alaskaspove Numenius tahitiensis
Slender-billed Curlew Smalnebbspove Numenius tenuirostris




Curlew, Storspove, Numenius arquata




Immediately after breeding it moves to coastal mudflats and salt marshes. While resident in parts of western Europe, it winters along the coasts of Africa and southern Asia as well as southern Europe.

It is the largest wader in Europe and has an exceptionally long, decurved beak.
text ag


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