Boreal Birds
300+ species, billions of birds rely on Canada's boreal forest as critical breeding grounds
© Dick Daniels/Wikimedia Commons (CC 3.0)

Whimbrel

Whimbrel
Numenius phaeopus
Sandpiper-like Birds | Family: Sandpipers, Scolopacidae

An estimated 76% of the species' North American population breeds within the Boreal Forest.

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Overview

The Whimbrel is found along both coasts, as well as in the interior of the continent. It is still numerous because of its wary behavior and the remoteness of its nesting grounds on the Arctic tundra. Like many other tundra breeders, those in the East fly offshore over the Atlantic during their autumn migration to South America, returning in spring mainly along an interior route.

Description

17" (43 cm). A large shorebird with a down-curved bill. Uniform brown or gray-brown above, with bold head stripes and long legs. Eskimo Curlew (Numenius borealis), now near extinction, is much smaller and more of a buff color, with a shorter, very slender, down-curved bill, cinnamon wing linings, and no bold head pattern.

Voice

A series of 5-7 loud, clear, whistled notes: pip-pip-pip-pip-pip.

Nesting

4 olive eggs, heavily marked with brown, in a depression in moss or in a sedge clump on the ground.

Habitat

Breeds on Arctic tundra, especially near coast; coastal salt meadows, mudflats, and grassy shoreline slopes during migration.

Range/Migration

Breeds in Arctic Alaska and Canada. Winters in southern California, Gulf Coast, and Atlantic Coast north to Virginia. Also in Eurasia.