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          Member | Join now

          By joining the biggest community of bird lovers in Australia, you can help us make a positive impact on the future of our native birdlife. The members of BirdLife Australia, along with our supporters and partners, have been powerful advocates for native birds and the conservation of their habitats since 1901.

          We are also the meeting ground for everyone with an interest in birds from the curious backyard observer to the dedicated research scientist. It doesn’t matter what your interest in birds is or how much you know about them, your membership will offer you the opportunity to increase your awareness and enjoyment.

          Birdlife Australia would be delighted to welcome you as a new member and we look forward to sharing our news and achievements with you throughout the coming year.

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          Eastern Curlew

          Numenius madagascariensis
          Scolopacidae

          Eastern Curlews are the largest of all the world’s shorebirds, and call their call, a mournful ‘Cuuuurrlew’, ringing out beautifully across vast coastal wetlands. Their impressive bill, which is characteristic of the species, is used to probe the mud and dig up crabs, their main food source in Australia. Sadly, its down-curved shape also mimics the decline of Australia’s migratory shorebirds. The Eastern Curlew occurs only in our flyway, and about 75 per cent of the world’s curlews winter in Australia, so we have a particular responsibility to protect coastal wetlands for them and the smaller shorebirds that live in their shadow.

          Check out the National Shorebird Monitoring Program.

          Identification

          Description

          The Eastern Curlew is the largest wader that visits Australia, with a very long down-curved bill. The female's bill is usually longer than the male's and averages 185 mm in length. It is a bulky, dark-streaked brown wader, with a long neck and legs. When flying, the barred flight feathers are visible, lighter under the wings and dark above. They are wary birds, quick to take flight. Their wing beats are slow and deliberate, unlike the rapid beats of the Whimbrel. Other names are Curlew and Australian or Sea Curlew.

          Similar Species

          The Eastern Curlew is the largest curlew, with a much longer bill and legs than the similar Whimbrel, Numensius phaeopus. The call of the Eastern Curlew is distinctive and the long bill is obvious in flight.

          Location

          Distribution

          The Eastern Curlew is widespread in coastal regions in the north-east and south of Australia, including Tasmania, and scattered in other coastal areas. It is rarely seen inland. It breeds in Russia and north-eastern China. On passage, they are commonly seen in Japan, Korea and Borneo. Small numbers visit New Zealand.

          Habitat

          The Eastern Curlew is found on intertidal mudflats and sandflats, often with beds of seagrass, on sheltered coasts, especially estuaries, mangrove swamps, bays, harbours and lagoons.

          Behaviour

          Feeding

          The Eastern Curlew eats mainly small crabs and molluscs. Foraging by day and night, it is slow and deliberate, stalking slowly on sandy and muddy flats, picking from the surface or probing deep with its long bill.

          Breeding

          Eastern Curlews breed in the northern hemisphere on swampy moors and boggy marshes. Both sexes have similar plumage, with the males using their haunting calls and display flights to attract a mate and defend their territory. The nest is a shallow depression lined with grass.

          Conservation Status

          Federal

          Critically Endangered

          NSW

          unlisted

          NT

          Vulnerable

          QLD

          Vulnerable

          SA

          Vulnerable

          TAS

          Endangered

          VIC

          Vulnerable (Advisory List of Threatened Vertebrate Fauna in Victoria: 2013 list)

          WA

          Vulnerable

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