top of page

What is a Whimbrel?

The whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus) - pictured below - is a bird. It is a wader and one of the most widespread of the curlews, breeding across much of subarctic North America, Europe and Asia.

Here is one at MaiPo marshes.

This is a migratory species, and it winters on coasts in Africa, South America, south Asia into Australasia.

The English name is imitative of the bird's call, which is a rippling whistle, prolonged into a trill for the song.

I asked about telling the difference between this and a normal curlew, and was told that the whimbrel is smaller, has a shorter, decurved bill and has a central crown stripe.

bottom of page