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© Andreas Trepte

Curlew (Numerius arquata)

The curlew is present throughout most of Cumbria although breeding records are now scare within the Lakeland Fells. The Breeding Birds of Cumbria (2001) estimates the population in Cumbria  at 10,500 breeding pairs.




Habitat – damp open moorland, heath, sand dunes, bogs and river shingle are all counted as suitable for nest sites

– 50-60 cm. a long distinctive downcurved bill longer in the females, and long legs. In flight it rises steeply with vigorous flapping of wings and then flies in wide circles.

– a loud melancholy “coor li”, in spring a bubbling song, the male making a trill in flight whilst flying wide circles claiming their territory.

Food – omnivorous diet includes seeds, berries, crustaceans, worms, toads, lizards, and some small birds. Its long bill is used to dig in the mud or pastures for food.

Population changes / conservation
– numbers declined post Second World War due to land drainage and pollution from chemicals, afforestation of open countryside, and high stocking levels on the fells causing poor vegetation and spoiled nesting sites, it is hoped that agri environment schemes may be beneficial in the longer term.