Thai National Parks

Species of Thailand


Numenius phaeopus

Carolus Linnaeus, 1758

In Thai: นกอีก๋อยเล็ก

The Eurasian whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus) is a wader in the large family Scolopacidae. It is one of the most widespread of the curlews, breeding across much of subarctic Asia and Europe as far south as Scotland. This species and the Hudsonian whimbrel have recently been split, although some taxonomic authorities still consider them to be conspecific.

The Eurasian whimbrel is a migratory bird wintering on coasts in Africa, and South Asia into Australasia. It is also a coastal bird during migration. It is fairly gregarious outside the breeding season.


This is a fairly large wader though mid-sized as a member of the curlew genus. The English name is imitative of the bird's call. The genus name Numenius is from Ancient Greek noumenios, a bird mentioned by Hesychius. It is associated with the curlews because it appears to be derived from neos, "new" and mene "moon", referring to the crescent-shaped bill. The species name phaeopus is the Medieval Latin name for the bird, from Ancient Greek phaios, "dusky" and pous, "foot".

It is 37 – 47 cm in length, 75 - 90 cm in wingspan, and 270 - 493 g oz+lb in weight. It is mainly greyish brown, with a white back and rump (subspecies N. p. phaeopus and N. p. alboaxillaris only), and a long curved bill (longest in the adult female) with a kink rather than a smooth curve. It is generally wary.

The usual call is a rippling whistle, prolonged into a trill for the song.

The only similar common species over most of this bird's range are larger curlews. The whimbrel is smaller, has a shorter, decurved bill and has a central crown stripe and strong supercilia.


There are 5 subspecies:

  • N. p. islandicus – Brehm, C.L., 1831: breeds mainly in Iceland, but also in Greenland, Faroe Islands and Scotland; winters mainly in West Africa, but ranges from southwestern Europe to Benin and Togo
  • N. p. phaeopus – (Linnaeus, 1758): nominate, found from Norway to north central Siberia
  • N. p. alboaxillaris – Lowe, 1921: found from western Kazakhstan to southwestern Siberia (rare, endangered)
  • N. p. rogachevae – Tomkovich, 2008: found in central Siberia
  • N. p. variegatus – (Scopoli, 1786): found in northeastern Siberia


This species feeds by probing soft mud for small invertebrates and by picking small crabs and similar prey off the surface. Before migration, berries become an important part of their diet. It has also been observed taking insects, specifically blue tiger butterflies.

The nest is a bare scrape on tundra or Arctic moorland. Three to five eggs are laid. Adults are very defensive of nesting area and will even attack humans who come too close.

Near the end of the 19th century, hunting on their migration routes took a heavy toll on this bird's numbers; the population has since recovered.

In the Ireland and Britain, it breeds in Scotland, particularly around Shetland, Orkney, the Outer Hebrides as well as the mainland at Sutherland and Caithness.

The whimbrel is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.

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Category / Seasonal Status

Wiki listed status (concerning Thai population): Winter visitor

BCST Category: Recorded in an apparently wild state within the last 50 years

BCST Seasonal status: Non-breeding visitor

Scientific classification

Numenius phaeopus

Common names

  • English: Whimbrel
  • French: Courlis corlieu
  • Thai: นกอีก๋อยเล็ก


  • Numenius phaeopus alboaxillaris, Percy Roycroft Lowe, 1921

    Range: From western Kazakhstan to southwestern Siberia (rare, endangered)

  • Numenius phaeopus hudsonicus, John Aubrey Clarendon Latham, 1790

    Common name: Hudsonian curlew

    Range: Hudson Bay area to northeastern Canada

  • Numenius phaeopus islandicus, Christian Ludwig Brehm, 1831

    Range: Iceland and the British Isles

  • Numenius phaeopus phaeopus (nominate), Carolus Linnaeus, 1758

    Range: From Norway to north central Siberia

  • Numenius phaeopus rogachevae, Pavel Tomkovich, 2008

    Range: Found in central Siberia

  • Numenius phaeopus rufiventris, Nicholas Aylward Vigors, 1829

    Range: Alaska and northwestern Canada

  • Numenius phaeopus variegatus, Giovanni Antonio Scopoli, 1786

    Range: Northeastern Siberia


  • Scolopax phæopus, Carolus Linnaeus (1758)

Conservation status

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)


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Eurasian whimbrel
Eurasian whimbrel
Numenius phaeopus

Range Map

Distribution map of Whimbrel, Numenius phaeopus in Thailand
  • Amphawa District, Samut Songkhram
  • Ao Phang-Nga National Park
  • Ban Laem District, Phetchaburi
  • Bang Pakong District, Chachoengsao
  • Bang Phra Non-Hunting Area
  • Bang Pu Recreation Centre
  • Bang Saphan Noi District, Prachuap Khiri Khan
  • Bueng Boraped Non-Hunting Area
  • Chonburi Coast
  • Chumphon Coast
  • Hat Chao Mai National Park
  • Hat Wanakon National Park
  • Huai Chorakhe Mak Reservoir Non-Hunting Area
  • Khanom District, Nakhon Si Thammarat
  • Khao Lak - Lam Ru National Park
  • Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park
  • Khao Yai National Park
  • Khung Kraben Non-Hunting Area
  • Khura Buri District, Phang Nga
  • Ko Lanta National Park
  • Ko Libong
  • Ko Samui District, Surat Thani
  • Laem Pak Bia
  • Laem Son National Park
  • Mu Ko Chumphon National Park
  • Mueang Chonburi District, Chonburi
  • Mueang Krabi District, Krabi
  • Mueang Pattani District, Pattani
  • Mueang Phang Nga District, Phang Nga
  • Mueang Phetchaburi District, Phetchaburi
  • Mueang Phuket District, Phuket
  • Mueang Samut Sakhon District, Samut Sakhon
  • Mueang Satun District, Satun
  • Mueang Suphanburi District, Suphan Buri
  • Mueang Surin District, Surin
  • Narathiwat Coast
  • Pak Phanang District, Nakhon Si Thammarat
  • Pak Thale
  • Pathio District, Chumphon
  • Phetchaburi Coast
  • Phi Phi Islands
  • Prachuap Khiri Khan Coast
  • Pran Buri Forest Park
  • Rayong Coast
  • Samut Prakan Province
  • Sathing Phra District, Songkhla
  • Sikao District, Trang
  • Similan Islands
  • Sirinat National Park
  • Sri Phang-nga National Park
  • Surin Islands
  • Takua Pa District, Phang Nga
  • Than Sadet - Koh Pha-Ngan National Park
Range map of Numenius phaeopus in Thailand