Thai National Parks

Birds of Thailand

Species of Thailand

Whimbrel

Thai: นกอีก๋อยเล็ก, nok E-koy lek

Binomial name: Numenius phaeopus, Carolus Linnaeus, 1758

The 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 North America, Europe and Asia as far south as Scotland.

This is a migratory species wintering on coasts in Africa, South America, south Asia into Australasia and southern North America. It is also a coastal bird during migration. It is fairly gregarious outside the breeding season.

Description

This is a fairly large wader though mid-sized as a member of the curlew genus. It is 37 – 47 cm in length, 75 - 90 cm in wingspan, and 270 - 493 g 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.

Subspecies

There are seven subspecies:

  • N. p. islandicus – (Brehm, C.L., 1831): found in Iceland and the British Isles
  • 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
  • N. p. rufiventris – (Vigors, 1829): found in Alaska and northwestern Canada
  • N. p. hudsonicus – (Latham, 1790): (Hudsonian curlew) found in Hudson Bay area to northeastern Canada

Ecology

This species feeds by probing soft mud for small invertebrates and by picking small crabs and similar prey off the surface. Prior to 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 British Isles, 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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Scientific classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Aves
Order
Charadriiformes
Family
Scolopacidae
Genus
Numenius
Species
Numenius phaeopus

Common names

  • English: Whimbrel
  • French: Courlis corlieu
  • Thai: นกอีก๋อยเล็ก, nok E-koy lek

Subspecies

  • 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

Conservation status

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

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
  • Hat Chao Mai National Park
  • Hat Noppharat Thara - Mu Ko Phi Phi 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 Sok National Park
  • Khao Yai National Park
  • Khung Kraben Non-hunting Area
  • Khura Buri District, Phang Nga
  • Klaeng District, Rayong
  • Ko Libong
  • Ko Samui District, Surat Thani
  • Laem Pak Bia
  • Laem Son National Park
  • Mu Ko Chumphon National Park
  • Mu Ko Lanta National Park
  • Mu Ko Similan National Park
  • Mu Ko Surin 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
  • Pak Phanang District, Nakhon Si Thammarat
  • Pak Thale
  • Pathio District, Chumphon
  • Pran Buri Forest Park
  • Samut Prakan Province
  • Sathing Phra District, Songkhla
  • Sawi District, Chumphon
  • Sikao District, Trang
  • Sirinat National Park
  • Sri Phang-nga National Park
  • Takua Pa District, Phang Nga
  • Than Sadet - Koh Pha-Ngan National Park

Range map of Numenius phaeopus in Thailand

Important note; our range maps are based on limited data we have collected. The data is not necessarily accurate or complete.

Special thanks to Ton Smits, Parinya Pawangkhanant, Ian Dugdale and many others for their contribution for range data.

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