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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Long-billed Curlew -- Numenius americanus

RANGE: Breeds from south-central British Columbia to southern Manitoba, south to northeastern California, central Utah, central New Mexico, and northern Texas, and east to southwestern Kansas. Winters from central California, southern Texas, southern Louisiana, and coastal South Carolina south to Mexico.

STATUS: Fairly common; once fairly abundant, lower population is due to past hunting pressure and loss of habitat due to grazing and agriculture.

HABITAT: Inhabits grasslands ranging from moist meadowland to very dry prairie. When at or near water, often loosely associates with godwits, willets, and yellowlegs. During the breeding season, commonly perches on bushes, low trees, dirt mounds, rocks, stumps, fenceposts, utility poles, or on other elevated sites. In other seasons, frequents wet habitats such as the shallow margins of inland and coastal waters, open areas of marshes, intertidal zones, or on sandbars.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Prairies or grassy meadows.

NEST: Nests in a slight hollow on the ground, usually in flat areas among short grasses such as cheatgrass and bluegrass. Locates nests in moist or arid areas far from water.

FOOD: Forages in areas that have a large variety of plants. Feeds by probing and pecking in wet sand or mud, under shallow water, or in uplands. Eats beetles, grasshoppers, caterpillars, other insect larvae, mud crabs, fiddler crabs, ghost shrimps, occasionally small fishes, and berries.

REFERENCES: Allen 1980, Palmer 1967, Stenzel et al. 1976, Tate and Tate 1982.

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