Species profile

Eastern Curlew

Eastern Curlew

Range and abundance

The Eastern Curlew is a long-distance migrant that ranges from Eastern Russia and north-eastern China (where it breeds), through Asia (e.g. Japan, Korea, China and Borneo), and to Australia and New Zealand during non-breeding times. Australia supports the majority of birds during the non-breeding season, mostly on the east and south coasts and the north-west coast.


An adult bird is 53 - 60 cm in length, and weighs about 900 g. It has a very long, thin downward-curved bill, long neck and long legs. The feathers of the upper body are brown with blackish centres, and the underside and neck of the bird is buff-coloured with dark streaking. The tail is barred. The chin and throat are whitish and there is a prominent white eye-ring. Their call can be described as a loud “curlee…”.


The Eastern Curlew breeds in bogs and marshes in northern Asia and Eastern Russia during the brief arctic summer. These areas have rich food resources for a short time, enabling successful breeding. The nests are constructed of dry grass and twigs on the ground. The young fledge rapidly. The birds start heading south from the middle of June or July, stopping off on the way in coastal areas of south-east Asia (especially the tidal areas of the Yellow Sea) and arriving in Australia from about mid to late September. In Australia curlews can be seen individually or in small flocks, inhabiting inter-tidal mudflats, sand banks, salt-marshes and mangroves where they feed on crustaceans, small molluscs and some insects.


The Eastern Curlew is declining as a result of habitat destruction and alteration to the chain of coastal wetlands along their migratory path. Many of these wetlands are being damaged by urban development, flood mitigation, agriculture and pollution. Direct disturbance on beaches by humans, domestic dogs and vehicles can cause stress to birds.


What is AWC doing?

AWC protects the habitat of the Eastern Curlew on Faure Island and Pungalina – Seven Emu sanctuaries.

Did you know:

The Eastern Curlew is capable of flying for days at a time without stopping. Young birds attempt their first migration when they are only six to eight weeks old.