So you think you know about Curlew - then take our quiz!

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#1. Where in the UK is the majority of the breeding population of curlews found?

Answer: c) Scotland. Although curlews can be found around the coast of most of the UK in winter, 60% of our summer breeding population is found in Scotland, with large numbers in Northern England as well.

#2. What is the Scots name for the Curlew?

Answer: d) Whaup. From this there are also the combination words: whaup-houghed, meaning having long-scrawny thighs; whaup-nebbed, meaning having a long, beaky nose; and whaup-neckit, meaning having a long, thin neck.

#3. Where do curlews normally nest?

Answer: a) In farmland, grassland, and moorland. Their nest is a shallow depression in the vegetation. Ideally the parents like to be surrounded by vegetation that is high enough to conceal them but low enough that they can keep a look out for predators.

#4. The whimbrel has recently been split into two species. What are these species called?

Answer: c) The Hudsonian whimbrel and the Eurasian whimbrel. Normally you will know which species you are looking at on the basis of where you find it. However, it is also possible to distinguish the Hudsonian whimbrels from Eurasian whimbrels by their more contrasting head markings – the dark stripes through the eye and on the crown are darker, and the pale stripes between them are paler. In flight the Hudsonian whimbrels show a brown rump and tail with no white patch, and the underwings also appear uniformly brown.

#5. Which is the largest species of curlew, on average?

Answer: a) The Far Eastern curlew is the largest, with a wingspan of 110 cm, and weighing up to 1.15 kg. The long-billed curlew is not much smaller, and since female curlews are generally larger than males, there is significant overlap in size between species.

#6. The Bristle-thighed curlew is the only shorebird known to use tools. Does it…

Answer: b) This species nests in Alaska, but spends its winters on the islands of the Pacific. They have been seen using stones to crack open the eggs of large seabirds to eat.

#7. Why were Eskimo curlews sometimes called “dough-birds”?

Answer: d) In order to get ready for migration, the birds voraciously ate berries, particularly crowberries. This made them so fat that when they fell to the ground after being shot by hunters, their skin sometimes split; they were said to be “as fat as dough”. This species was hunted in huge numbers in the nineteenth century and is almost certainly extinct.

#8. Which of these is NOT a name for the smallest member of the curlew family?

#9. What is the name of the long-distance migration route used by the Far Eastern and little curlews, along with many other bird species?

Answer: a) The East Asian-Australasian Flyway. These curlews breed in eastern Russia, then in the autumn, they fly south through China and Southeast Asia, to Indonesia, Australia, and sometimes as far as New Zealand. They spend the winter there and then fly north again in the spring.

#10. What happened to the UK curlew population in the twenty years from 1995 to 2015?

Answer: d) 50% decrease. Our curlews are under serious threat. Changes to our countryside have left them with less and less suitable habitat, and if we do not act, we could lose their beautiful calls forever.

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