Numenius madagascariensis


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Numenius madagascariensis
Species Authority: (Linnaeus, 1766)
Common Name(s):
English Far Eastern Curlew, Eastern Curlew
Taxonomic Notes:

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable A4bcd ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2012-05-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Contributor(s): Amano, H., Moores, N., Rogers, D. & Crockford, N.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Benstead, P., Butchart, S., Calvert, R., Derhé, M., Ekstrom, J., Harding, M.
This species is listed as Vulnerable as it is undergoing a rapid population decline which is suspected to have been primarily driven by habitat loss and deterioration. Further proposed reclamation projects are predicted to cause additional declines in the future.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Numenius madagascariensis breeds in eastern Russia, from the upper reaches of the Nizhnyaya Tunguska river east though the Verkhoyarsk mountains to Kamchatka, and south to Primorye and north-eastern Mongolia (del Hoyo et al. 1996). The Yellow Sea of North Korea, South Korea and China is a particularly important stopover site on migration. It has been recorded as a passage migrant in Japan, Brunei, Bangladesh, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore, with most birds wintering in Australia, but also in China, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and New Zealand (del Hoyo et al. 1996). The global population has recently been estimated at 38,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2006), including 28,000 in Australia (Bamford et al. 2008). The global population is declining, as indicated by reduced numbers at stopover points in South Korea and Japan, and a significant decline in the number of non-breeding individuals wintering in north-west Australia and south-eastern Australia (Amano 2006, Gosbell and Clemens 2006, Moores et al. in litt. 2008, D. Rogers et al. in litt. 2009, Wilson et al. 2011).

Australia; Brunei Darussalam; China; Fiji; Guam; Hong Kong; Indonesia; Japan; Korea, Democratic People's Republic of; Korea, Republic of; Malaysia; Micronesia, Federated States of ; Mongolia; New Zealand; Northern Mariana Islands; Palau; Papua New Guinea; Philippines; Russian Federation; Singapore; Taiwan, Province of China; Thailand; Timor-Leste; United States; Viet Nam
Bangladesh; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Oman
Present - origin uncertain:
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Wetlands International (2006) estimated the global population at c.38,000 individuals, although recent documented declines mean that the true population size is likely to be smaller, and may not exceed 20,000 individuals (D. Rogers in litt. 2012). As such, the population is estimated to number 20,000-49,999 individuals. National population estimates include: < c.100 breeding pairs and < c.10,000 individuals on migration in China; < c.1,000 individuals on migration and < c.1,000 wintering individuals in Taiwan and c.100-10,000 breeding pairs and c.50-1,000 individuals on migration in Russia (Brazil 2009).
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Behaviour This migratory wader nests from early May to late June, often in small colonies of 2-3 pairs, with an average clutch size of four eggs. It probably delays maturity longer than most shorebirds, perhaps not breeding until 3-4 years old (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Rogers 2006). Habitat The species breeds on open mossy or transitional bogs, moss-lichen bogs and wet meadows, and on the swampy shores of small lakes; in the non-breeding season it is essentially coastal, occurring at estuaries, mangrove swamps, saltmarshes and intertidal flats, particularly those with extensive seagrass (Zosteraceae) meadows. It often roosts in salt-marshes, behind mangroves, or on sandy beaches (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Diet Its diet on breeding grounds includes insects, such as larvae of beetles and flies, and amphipods. Berries are also consumed during the autumn migration. In non-breeding areas it feeds on marine invertebrates, preferentially taking crabs and small molluscs but also feeding on other crustaceans and polychaete worms (del Hoyo et al. 1996).

Systems: Terrestrial; Freshwater; Marine

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Habitat loss on the Yellow Sea staging grounds is probably the primary threat to the species, with the amount of intertidal habitat lost to reclamation projects estimated at 50% or more (D. Rogers in litt. 2012). It is although it is difficult to ascertain whether declines seen at reclaimed sites such as Saemangeum represent true declines, or whether the birds have simply been displaced (Moores et al. in litt. 2008, D. Rogers in litt. 2009), but the former seems more probable, given the huge scale of habitat loss in the Yellow Sea. Wetland degradation in the Yellow Sea may affect the species where it stages on migration (Bamford et al. 2008, van de Kam et al. 2010). Further threats may include disturbance at the nesting and feeding sites, direct persecution throughout its range, and a decrease in the availability of food due to pollution in at stopover points in South Korea. Furthermore, females probably tend to migrate further south to southern Australian wetlands which are more threatened than those in northern Australia (del Hoyo et al. 1996).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
No specific conservation action is known for this species, although population trends are being monitored in Australia as part of the Monitoring Yellow Sea Migrants in Australia project. The species is included in the action plan for Australian birds 2010 (Garnett et al. 2011).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Identify key stopover areas and prevent their reclamation. Continue to monitor population trends. Restore reclaimed wetland sites. Campaign to stop shorebird hunting in Asian countries. Legally protect it in all range states. Survey the breeding grounds for potential threats.

Citation: BirdLife International 2012. Numenius madagascariensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 31 August 2015.
Disclaimer: To make use of this information, please check the <Terms of Use>.
Feedback: If you see any errors or have any questions or suggestions on what is shown on this page, please provide us with feedback so that we can correct or extend the information provided