Far Eastern Curlew - Numenius madagascariensis

Far Eastern Curlew
World Curlew Day logo, designed by Nicola Duffy

At 60 – 66 cm, the Far Eastern Curlew is not only the largest member of the genus but the largest member of the entire sandpiper family. This species also has one of the longest bills of the family, rivalled only by the long-billed curlew. They breed in the Russian far east, parts of Mongolia, and northern China, in swampy wetland and lakeshore habitats. Far Eastern curlews migrate via the East Asian-Australiasian Flyway, a route taken by over fifty species of migratory shorebird. This takes the curlews down through eastern China, the Korean peninsula and Japan. Some spend the winter on the coast of the Philippines, Indonesia or Papua New Guinea, while most continue to Australia or even New Zealand.

This species has experienced a rapid population decline in recent years. Having been considered Least Concern in 2004, it is now listed as Endangered. The main reason for this decline is the loss of vital stopover habitats on their migration route. The entire population probably passes through the Yellow/Bohai sea region where many of the mudflats which they rely on to feed and replenish themselves have disappeared, due to coastal development, extensive damming of rivers, and rising sea levels.

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