Long-billed Curlew
(Numenius americanus)

Picture of bird
© Glen Tepke (www.pbase.com/gtepke)


In Canada, the Long-billed Curlew breeds in short-grass prairie and mixed, intermontane grasslands of British Columbia, Alberta and western Saskatchewan. It was once a common breeder in Manitoba, but is now considered extirpated from the province (Thompson 1891, COSEWIC 2002a). The species suffered substantial declines historically, and has been assigned a high conservation priority in Canada and the United States owing to range contractions and a small population size (COSEWIC: Special Concern, 2011). The most recent Breeding Bird Survey results suggest that the population status in Canada may have changed little relative to about 1970, though the species is very poorly covered by this survey. The species still faces significant threats from habitat loss on both the breeding and wintering grounds; ongoing conservation concern is warranted.



 StatusDateSubspecies / Population
COSEWIC (Canada)Special Concern2011 
SARASpecial Concern2011 
IUCN (Global)Least concern2009 
Canadian Shorebird Conservation Plan (North America)Highly imperiled 2000 
Wildspecies (Canada)Sensitive2010 

Population status (Click here for more details)

 Population status relative to circa 1970Reliability
CanadaLittle ChangeLow

Population estimate

Distribution maps

Migration strategy:

Responsibility (based on Canadian % of global population)


Conservation and management

Historic declines were likely linked to market hunting, which largely eliminated Long-billed Curlews from migration stopover sites along the east coast of the United States. On the breeding grounds, historic loss of native grasslands led to declines in abundance of breeding birds, especially in the eastern half of the species' former range (Dugger and Dugger 2002). Habitat loss, both on the breeding and the wintering grounds, remains the largest current threat to the species' populations (COSEWIC 2002a) as native grasslands in Canada are lost to agriculture, development, and invasive species, and the wetlands and grasslands used by wintering birds face similar threats. For information on the legal status of this species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) and to view available recovery documents, see the SARA Registry.

Bird Conservation Plans

Information on this and other species has been compiled by ecoregion through the Bird Conservation planning process. For more details, click Bird Conservation Plans.


  • COSEWIC. 2002a. COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Long-billed Curlew Numenius americanus in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Ottawa. vii + 31 pp. (Link)
  • Dugger, B.D. and K.M. Dugger. 2002. Long-billed Curlew (Numenius americanus), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. (Link)
  • Hill, D.P. 1998. Status of the Long-billed Curlew (Numenius americanus) in Alberta. Alberta Environmental Protection, Fisheries & Wildlife Management Division, and Alberta Conservation Association, Wildlife Status Report No. 16, Edmonton, Alberta. 20 pp. (Link)
  • Jones, S.L., C.S. Nations, S.D. Fellows and L.L. McDonald. 2008. Breeding Abundance and Distribution of Long-billed Curlews (Numenius americanus) in North America. Waterbirds 31:1-158. (Link)
  • Stanley, T.R. and S.K. Skagen. 2007. Estimating the breeding population of Long-Billed Curlew in the United States. Journal of Wildlife Management 71:2556-2564.
  • Thompson, E.E. 1891. The Birds of Manitoba. Proceedings of the United States National Museum 13:457-643. (Link)



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