In Thai: นกอีก๋อยเล็ก, nok E-koy lek
Binomial name: Numenius phaeopus, Carolus Linnaeus, 1758
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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- Numenius phaeopus
- English: Whimbrel
- French: Courlis corlieu
- Thai: นกอีก๋อยเล็ก, nok E-koy lek
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)
Least Concern (IUCN3.1)