General Description

A small migratory wader. Their non-breeding plumage is light grey-brown above and white below with a curved white stripe above the eye and a wide white stripe on the wings. The black bill is narrow and curves down at the tip. When breeding, the head, neck, bill and underparts are bright red-brown and the wings are barred black. Their legs and feet are black. Bill to tail length is up to 23 cm.


Curlew Sandpipers breed in Alaska and Siberia and migrate to Australia for the southern summer. They arrive here in September and depart in March-April. They are commonly seen with other shorebirds. They feed on marine invertebrates, particularly polychaete worms. Prey is caught by pecking at the surface of mud or probing their bills into the ground, wading into belly-deep water. Curlew Sandpiper numbers have decreased sharply in recent years and they are now listed as Critically Endangered across Australia (EPBC Act). Curlew Sandpipers are affected by coastal development including habitat destruction and loss, habitat fragmentation, inappropriate drainage regimes and human disturbance.


Breeds in north-eastern Siberia and Alaska then migrates to mainland Australia and Tasmania, New Zealand, Indonesia, New Guinea, southern Asia and Africa for the southern summer.


Intertidal mudflats, saltmarshes, estuaries, mangroves, wetlands and beaches. Breeding habitat consists of lowland tundra.

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