Numenius arquata 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Charadriiformes Scolopacidae

Scientific Name: Numenius arquata (Linnaeus, 1758)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Eurasian Curlew, Curlew
French Courlis cendré
Taxonomic Source(s): del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Volume 1: Non-passerines. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International, Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge, UK.
Identification information: 55cm. Large wader with long down-curved bill. Mottled or streaked brown plumage with whiter belly and undertail. In flight show pointed whitish rump and barred tail as well as mottled whitish underwings. Outer primaries contrastingly dark and flight slow and gull-like. Similar spp. European race of N. phaeopus similar but with shorter bill and dark crown side and eye-stripe. N. tahitiensis, N. americanus and N. madagascariensis also similar but dark rumps and underwings.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2016-10-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Contributor(s): Barter, M., Boschert, M., Copland, A., Kamp, J., Sklyarenko, S., van Dijk, A., Bragin, E., Fefelov, I., Mischenko, A., Raudonikis, L., Flensted, K. & Chan, S.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Derhé, M., Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S., Harding, M., Bird, J., Malpas, L. & Ashpole, J
This widespread species remains common in many parts of its range, and determining population trends is problematic. Nevertheless, declines have been recorded in several key populations and overall a moderately rapid global decline is estimated. As a result, the species has been uplisted to Near Threatened; it almost qualifies for threatened under criteria A2bcd+3bcd+4bcd.

Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is widely distributed, breeding across Europe from the British Isles, through north-western Europe and Scandinavia into Russia extending east into Siberia, east of Lake Baikal. It winters around the coasts of north-west Europe, the Mediterranean, Africa, the Middle East, the Indian Subcontinent, South-East Asia, Japan and the Sundas. It has a large global population estimated to number 765,000-1,065,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2006, M. Barter in litt. 2007). The breeding population in Western Europe (212,000-292,000 pairs) has declined in recent years, with the population most recently estimated to be decreasing by 30-49% in 31.2 years (three generations) (BirdLife International 2015). The population in the United Kingdom has undergone a 53% decline calculated over the period 1970-2005 from the Common Birds Census and the Breeding Bird Survey, and a 37% decline over the period 1994-2006 derived from the Breeding Bird Survey (Eaton et al. 2007, R. Gregory in litt. 2007). A decline of 86% was calculated in Ireland between 1988-1991 and 2003 (Gibbons et al. 1993, Hillis 2003) and declines have been recorded in Finland (BirdLife International 2004, 2015), Germany (Hötker et al. 2007), Lithuania (20-30% per decade) (L. Raudonikis in litt. 2007) and the Netherlands (31% since 1984 (A. J. van Djik in litt. 2007)). Declines have also been reported for the Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Norway, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden and Switzerland and the European population overall is estimated to be decreasing by 30-49% in 31.2 years (three generations) (BirdLife International 2015). Unquantified, but potentially highly significant, declines have also been recorded in the central Asian populations of N. a. orientalis (J. Kamp and S. Sklyarenko in litt. 2007). In Denmark (K. N. Flensted in litt. 2007, Meltofte et al. 2009) and eastern Siberia (I. Fefelov in litt. 2007) breeding populations are apparently stable and apparent increases in wintering populations in the Wadden Sea (Laursen and Karsten 2005, Meltofte et al. 2009), on the Adriatic coast (Gusson et al. 2005), in East Asia (M. Barter in litt. 2007) and in Western Europe suggest that breeding populations, probably in European Russia and northern Siberia have perhaps increased.

Overall, analysis of the compiled trend data indicate three generation (15 year) estimate of decline of between 26% and 34% (Hillis 2003, BirdLife International 2004, Thorup 2006, Wetlands International 2006, A. J. van Djik in litt. 2007, M. Barter in litt. 2007, A. Copland in litt. 2007, M. Boschert in litt. 2007, Eaton et al. 2007, R. Gregory in litt. 2007). Owing to the uncertainty over whether declines in southern populations have been compensated by increases in northern populations, the global trend is suspected to fall within the band 20-30% declines in the past 15 years or three generations.

Countries occurrence:
Afghanistan; Albania; Algeria; Angola; Armenia; Austria; Azerbaijan; Bahrain; Bangladesh; Belarus; Belgium; Benin; Bhutan; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Botswana; British Indian Ocean Territory; Brunei Darussalam; Bulgaria; Burkina Faso; Burundi; Cambodia; Cameroon; Chad; China; Comoros; Congo; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Côte d'Ivoire; Croatia; Cyprus; Czech Republic; Denmark; Djibouti; Egypt; Equatorial Guinea; Eritrea; Estonia; Ethiopia; Faroe Islands; Finland; France; Gabon; Gambia; Georgia; Germany; Ghana; Gibraltar; Greece; Guam; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Hong Kong; Hungary; Iceland; India; Indonesia; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Iraq; Ireland; Israel; Italy; Japan; Jordan; Kazakhstan; Kenya; Korea, Democratic People's Republic of; Korea, Republic of; Kuwait; Kyrgyzstan; Lao People's Democratic Republic; Latvia; Lebanon; Liberia; Libya; Liechtenstein; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of; Madagascar; Malawi; Malaysia; Maldives; Mali; Malta; Mauritania; Mauritius; Mayotte; Moldova; Mongolia; Montenegro; Morocco; Mozambique; Myanmar; Namibia; Nepal; Netherlands; Niger; Nigeria; Northern Mariana Islands; Norway; Oman; Pakistan; Palestinian Territory, Occupied; Philippines; Poland; Portugal; Qatar; Réunion; Romania; Russian Federation (Central Asian Russia, Eastern Asian Russia, European Russia); Rwanda; Saudi Arabia; Senegal; Serbia; Seychelles; Sierra Leone; Singapore; Slovakia; Slovenia; Somalia; South Africa; Spain; Sri Lanka; Sudan; Sweden; Switzerland; Syrian Arab Republic; Taiwan, Province of China; Tajikistan; Tanzania, United Republic of; Thailand; Togo; Tunisia; Turkey; Turkmenistan; Uganda; Ukraine; United Arab Emirates; United Kingdom; Uzbekistan; Viet Nam; Western Sahara; Yemen; Zambia; Zimbabwe
Bahamas; Bermuda; Canada; Cape Verde; Central African Republic; Greenland; Lesotho; Niue; Sao Tomé and Principe; Svalbard and Jan Mayen; United States
Present - origin uncertain:
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:20700000
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):UnknownExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Continuing decline in number of locations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:No
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:The global population is estimated to number c.835,000-1,310,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2016). The European population is estimated at 212,000-292,000 pairs, which equates to 425,000-584,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015).

Trend Justification:  Data from 2007 return estimated three-generation declines of 26.1-34.1%. However, owing to the uncertainty over whether declines in southern populations have been compensated for by increases in northern populations, the global trend is suspected to fall within the band 20-30% in the past 15 years (three generations). The European population is estimated to be decreasing by 30-49% in 31.2 years (three generations) (BirdLife International 2015).
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals:Yes
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:No
No. of subpopulations:2-100Continuing decline in subpopulations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Behaviour Most populations of this species are fully migratory (del Hoyo et al. 1996) and breed from April to August (Hayman et al. 1986) in solitary territorial pairs (Johnsgard 1981), occasionally also forming small colonies (Flint et al. 1984). After breeding adults gather on coasts (from July onwards) (Hayman et al. 1986) for the post-breeding moult (Snow and Perrins 1998) before migrating south to the wintering grounds between July and November (del Hoyo et al. 1996). The species departs its wintering grounds again from February through to May, although non-breeders may remain in the wintering areas all-year-round (del Hoyo et al. 1996). During the winter the species usually forages singly or in small groups (del Hoyo et al. 1996) occasionally aggregating into flocks of several thousand individuals, especially at roosting sites (Snow and Perrins 1998). Habitat Breeding The species breeds on upland moors, peat bogs, swampy and dry heathlands, fens, open grassy or boggy areas in forests, damp grasslands, meadows (del Hoyo et al. 1996), non-intensive farmland in river valleys (Hayman et al. 1986), dune valleys and coastal marshlands (del Hoyo et al. 1996) Non-breeding During the winter the species frequents muddy coasts, bays and estuaries (del Hoyo et al. 1996) with tidal mudflats and sandflats (Snow and Perrins 1998), rocky and sandy beaches with many pools (Johnsgard 1981, Snow and Perrins 1998), mangroves, saltmarshes (Snow and Perrins 1998), coastal meadows (Johnsgard 1981) and muddy shores of coastal lagoons (Johnsgard 1981), inland lakes and rivers (del Hoyo et al. 1996). It also utilises wet grassland and arable fields during migration (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Diet Its diet consists chiefly of annelid worms and terrestrial insects (del Hoyo et al. 1996) (e.g. Coleoptera and Orthoptera) (Johnsgard 1981) especially during the summer (del Hoyo et al. 1996), although it will also take crustaceans, molluscs, polychaete worms (del Hoyo et al. 1996), spiders (Johnsgard 1981), berries and seeds, as well as occasionally small fish, amphibians, lizards, young birds and small rodents (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Breeding site The nest is a shallow depression on the ground or on a mound (Flint et al. 1984) in the open or in the cover of grass or sedge (del Hoyo et al. 1996) often far from water (Johnsgard 1981). Management information A study into the effects of shellfish harvesting by hand in coastal intertidal habitats recommends that the harvesting load should be limited to -1 during this species's autumn migration (Navedo and Masero 2007).

Systems:Terrestrial; Freshwater; Marine
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes
Generation Length (years):5
Movement patterns:Full Migrant
Congregatory:Congregatory (and dispersive)

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The species is threatened by the loss and fragmentation of moorland habitats as a result of afforestation (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Johnsgard 1981) and of marginal grassland habitats as a result of agricultural intensification and improvement (Johnsgard 1981, Baines 1988, del Hoyo et al. 1996) (e.g. drainage, inorganic fertilisation and reseeding) (Baines 1988). The species also suffers from high egg and chick mortalities (due to mechanical mowing) and higher predation rates if nesting on improved grasslands (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Conversely populations in the central Asian steppes have declined following abandonment of farmland and subsequent increases in the height of vegetation, rendering large areas unsuitable for nesting. It has also suffered population declines as a result of hunting (Johnsgard 1981), and is susceptible to avian influenza so may be threatened by future outbreaks of the virus (Melville and Shortridge 2006). Wintering populations are threatened by disturbance on intertidal mudflats (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Burton et al. 2002a, 2002b) (e.g. from construction work (Burton et al. 2002a) and foot-traffic (Burton et al. 2002b)), development on high-tide roosting sites, pollution (del Hoyo et al. 1996) and the flooding of estuarine mudflats and saltmarshes as a result of tidal barrage construction (Burton 2006). The species is also threatened by the degradation of migrational staging areas owing to land reclamation, pollution, human disturbance and reduced river flows (Kelin and Qiang 2006). Local populations of this species have also declined owing to hunting pressures (del Hoyo et al. 1996).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
Annex I and II of the EU Birds Directive. A management plan for the species, updated for 2007-2009, was published in 2007, covering the EU portion of the species's range (Jensen and Lutz 2007). A five year moratorium on hunting the species was implemented in France in July 2008 (A. Duncan in litt. 2008). The species occurs in a large number of protected areas throughout its range and features in several national monitoring schemes.

Conservation Actions Proposed
The Management Plan for Curlew outlines key conservation targets: Protect key wintering sites (Jensen and Lutz 2007) and work to maintain the non-hunting status in France when the hunting (Brown et al. 2014) moratorium ends. Determine the key parameters driving declines in breeding areas and integrate agri-environment measures to counter these. Continue monitoring trends. Minimise disturbance on the wintering grounds (Jensen and Lutz 2007).

Citation: BirdLife International. 2016. Numenius arquata. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22693190A90101437. . Downloaded on 24 October 2017.
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