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Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus


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credit: Soler97

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Scolopacidae, Sandpipers view all from this family

Description ADULT Has gray-brown plumage overall with fine, dark streaking on neck and breast. Back and wing feathers have small, pale marginal spots. Head pattern comprises two broad, dark lateral stripes on otherwise pale crown, and dark stripe through eye. Legs are bluish gray. JUVENILE Similar to adult, but feathers on wings and back have larger pale spots.

Dimensions Length: 17" (43 cm)

Habitat Locally fairly common breeding species on tundra, mainly in Alaska and Hudson Bay areas. Long-distance migrant; many birds winter in South America, but fairly common outside breeding season on Gulf and Atlantic coast beaches and rocky shorelines.

Observation Tips Easiest to find outside breeding season on coasts, mudflats, and coastal wetlands.

Range Rocky Mountains, California, Northwest, Western Canada, Alaska, Southeast, Eastern Canada, Texas, Great Lakes, Southwest, Mid-Atlantic, New England, Florida, Plains

Voice Call typically comprises 5-7 whistling notes delivered at same pitch.

Similar Species Long-billed Curlew Numenius americanus (L 21-23 in) is much larger, with rufous wash to plumage and much longer legs and bill. Sometimes seen in similar coastal habitats (estuaries and mudflats) in winter, on coast of Texas and Florida.

Discussion Large shorebird with a long, decurved bill, used to probe mud and soil for invertebrates. Head markings are striking and call is a good means of identification. Sexes are similar.