The Long-billed Curlew is the largest of the
sandpipers in the state, and is easily recognizable by its extremely long,
decurved bill. Their extremely long bills are used to feed on burrowing
wolf spiders in South Dakota. It is a sandpiper of the dry grasslands and prairies of the
West, and is only found on mudflats, marshes, and wetlands during migration and
in winter. Long-billed Curlews have decreased greatly from their
historical range and populations, and are still declining in recent decades.
Habitat: Summers on grassland and
sagebrush prairies, preferably with wet meadows nearby.
Diet: Mostly insects, also eggs, young
birds, toads, and occasionally berries and seeds.
Nesting: May and June. The nest of a Long-billed
Curlew is a depression on the ground, lined with small amounts of grasses,
weeds, and leaves. The female lays between 3 and 5 eggs, and both parents
help to incubate them. When the eggs hatch, the young quickly leave the
nest, and must find their own food. However, both parents do tend to the
young and protect them from harm.
Song: Loud, two-tone call, with 2nd note higher than
Migration: Summers in
grasslands in the western United States. Winters in the southern U.S. and
Conservation Status: Greatly reduced from
historical levels, and still declining in recent decades. Range was once
much further east than it is today. Grasslands on which it relies have
been converted to agriculture in many parts of its range. Despite the
recent declines, populations are not currently in threat of extinction, and
the IUCN lists the
Long-billed Curlew as a species of "Least Concern".
Science Center - Long-billed Curlew
eNature.com: Long-billed Curlew
Photo Information: July 27th, 2009 - Antelope Island,
near Salt Lake City, Utah - Terry Sohl
Additional Photos: For additional
Long-billed Curlew photos, click on the image chips or links near the bottom of