|Latin name:||Numenius phaeopus|
Appearance and behavior... A relatively large sandpiper, the size of a hooded crow, of a monochromatic gray color, without warm reddish or buffy tones, on low legs, with a not very long, relatively thick beak slightly curved downwards. Body length 40–46 cm, wingspan 75–90 cm, weight 300–500 g. Males and females are colored the same, females are somewhat larger and have longer bills than males. There is no seasonal dimorphism in the color of the plumage; young birds in juvenile plumage are slightly rufous above. Within the species, several well-differentiated subspecies are distinguished, reliably distinguished by the details of the color of the plumage. In European Russia, there are representatives of two of them - ordinaryN.p. phaeopus and steppeN. p. alboaxillaris medium curlew.
Description... In all seasons they are brownish on top, without distinct longitudinal stripes, darker than large curlews. The top of the head and occiput are dark brown, in the middle of the vertex from the forehead to the back of the head there is a narrow light stripe. A wide whitish strip extends from the base of the beak above the eye and behind it. The front part of the back is dark brown with very narrow light edges, the back part of the back is either variegated (against a white background - a rare dark pattern) in the nominative subspecies, or pure white - in the steppe subspecies. The throat is white. The neck is in front and from the sides, the chest and the upper part of the belly are in frequent longitudinal brown stripes on a white background. On the sides, in addition to narrow dark longitudinal stripes, there are also transverse dark stripes. The middle of the belly is white. Undercover tail feathers are white with a transverse dark pattern. Axillary feathers are white with frequent transverse dark stripes in the European subspecies, or pure white in the steppe subspecies. The wings are long and sharp, the flight is fast.
The tail is slightly rounded, tail feathers are grayish-brown with dark transverse stripes and white narrow apical edges. The eyes are dark brown. The bill is dark-horny, the base of the mandible is reddish. Legs are grayish. The webbing between the front toes is fairly well developed. It swims well, even grown chicks can easily swim across small rivers. Juveniles in juvenile plumage differ sharply from adults in their spotted tops. The main background of the upper part of the body is blackish-brown, darker than in adult birds. Feathers on the front of the back, on the shoulders along the edges of both fans have small pale fawn spots. The rest of the coloration is the same as in adult birds, but the beak is much shorter.
Young birds in the first winter plumage are similar to adults, but much shorter-billed. Young birds in the first breeding season are indistinguishable from adult birds in summer, but also have a shorter beak. The downy chick is grayish-white on top, darker than the down jacket of the Great Curlew, with blackish-brown stripes and spots. Forehead and cheeks with a distinct ocher tinge. Black stripe running across the forehead, reaching the posterior edge of the vertex. The bottom is dull, pale buffy. It differs from the Great Curlew in smaller size, shorter and thicker beak, dark head from above with a longitudinal light stripe in the center. It differs from the spindles by a monochromatic color and a beak bent downwards.
Vote... Quite loud, but not as loud as that of the Great Curlew. Calling when calling in flocks is a sharp "bbc". The current song begins with drawn-out, rather muffled sounds "uuuut-uuuuut. "And ends with an iridescent, slightly rattling trill"ryr-ryrrr-ryu-ryu-ryu-ryu-ryu-ryu. ". Cries of concern or alarm near the nest and chicks resemble a sharp abrupt "trick-trick. " or "tiriri».
Distribution, status... The nesting area is a collection of scattered foci scattered over a vast area from Iceland and the Scandinavian Peninsula across Eurasia to Chukotka, Alaska and northern Canada. In the latitudinal direction, the area extends from the southern tundra to the north of the steppe zone.
In European Russia, birds of the subspecies nest in the northern parts of the species range N. p. phaeopus, which are found from the north of the Kola Peninsula, the southern part of the Kanin Peninsula and the southern tundra subzone to the southern taiga landscapes in the middle zone and mid-taiga landscapes in the Cis-Urals. In the steppe zone, another subspecies lives, which in an extremely limited number survived in the steppes of the Southern Urals and, possibly, the Middle Volga region. Birds from the European part of Russia winter on the British Isles, along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, in the Caspian Sea and in Africa.
Lifestyle... Flies to nesting sites one of the first among waders. Even in the very north of the range, in the tundra, birds appear already in the middle or at the end of May. They usually fly in flocks, sometimes in large, rarely singly, often at high altitudes and at night. Males occupy their individual territories and start mating immediately after arrival. Single males, especially in good weather, usually walk at a high altitude, so that the bird is difficult to see. In bad, windy weather and in the period after the formation of a pair, they often flow low. Current flight is an alternation of short take-offs along a rather steep trajectory and prolonged glides along a gentle trajectory. When sliding to the ground, the male usually emits an iridescent trill, while climbing - whistling sounds. The nesting habitats of the medium curlews are quite diverse.
Birds of the northern subspecies nest in shrub watershed tundra, on hilly peat bogs in the south of the tundra zone and in the forest-tundra, in woodlands, on damp burned areas and clearings in the taiga, open raised bogs with ridge-hollow complexes in the southern taiga, and sometimes in the meadow subzone on last year's arable land. Steppe populations inhabit floodplain meadows near small steppe rivers, feather grass steppes, and also nest on last year's arable land with stubble. In favorable places, medium curlews nest in small sparse colonies, where the distance between adjacent pairs is 100–400 m, in suboptimal habitats - in single pairs. Adult birds are characterized by high nesting conservatism - adult birds return to the same nesting territories from year to year.
The nest is a shallow hole located openly (on arable land or dry hayfields) or under the cover of bunches of grass (in the steppe), undersized shrubs (in the tundra and swamps). The lining consists of material collected from the vicinity of the nest. These can be cereal straws, dry grass, dry leaves of shrubs, pieces of lichen thallus; the amount of lining also varies greatly from very scarce to very abundant.
In clutch there are 3-4, although there are 2 and sometimes 5 eggs. The main background color of the shell varies from bluish-green to brownish with brown spots of various sizes, shapes and intensities. Both adult birds incubate the clutch, replacing each other after 3-4 hours, the duration of incubation is 26-28 days. During incubation, they behave carefully, in case of danger, the incubating bird leaves the nest in advance, after which it flies around with restless cries at a respectful distance, sitting down on protruding areas of the surface, trees or bushes. In case of a real threat, the nest can be “diverted” by performing distracting demonstrations, depicting a wounded bird or a fleeing animal. Birds of prey, seagulls, skuas, crows attack and fiercely pursue, driving them away. At first, both parents take care of the chicks, but the females often leave broods in 1.5–2 weeks, and then only the male takes care of them until the chicks rise on the wing.Young birds begin to fly at 4–5 weeks of age. Autumn migration occurs in August or early September. Young immature birds partially remain in wintering areas, partially fly away towards the nesting area, spending the summer between summer and winter habitats. It feeds on all kinds of invertebrates, both terrestrial and aquatic - insects, small mollusks, worms, small crabs, and catches fish fry. In autumn, he eats a large number of berries of cloudberries, blueberries, lingonberries, shiksha. It collects food from the surface of the earth, as well as from the thickness of soft soil, probing it with its beak.
In the southern regions of Russia (Urals, Lower Volga, Stavropol, Black Sea regions) on migration occurs thin-billed, or small, curlewNumenius tenuirostris... It is an endangered protected species with no modern nesting sites found. The general background of the color is lighter than that of other curlews, the stripes on the tail are wider and run along a white, rather than brownish background. The underside of the wing is white, the posterior edge of the wings is lighter, but the ends of the wings are darker than in the middle and large curlews. It differs from both in breeding plumage by large teardrop-shaped streaks on the sides and front of the belly, from the middle curlew in all plumage by the absence of two dark stripes on the cap, separated by a light parting. In young birds and adults in winter plumage, the plumage has a weak ocher tint, streaks on the chest and sides are longitudinal, narrow.
Medium curlew (Numenius phaeopus)
Curlews are very bright representatives of the snipe family. They are easily recognized by their long, slightly curved beaks. The long, sharp beak helps to find prey in the wet, soft bottom.
The rarest thin-billed curlew nests in the northern and temperate latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere.
To the south, the great curlew N. arquata lives. Its body length is 55 cm, weight is 750 - 920 g, and it is noticeably larger than a thin-billed curlew. This curlew has long legs, a long and thin beak, the apical part of which is strongly bent downwards. From a distance, the bird seems to be salty-gray, but the back part of the back and upper tail are white. Apart from size, it differs well from other types of curlews by a monotonous longitudinally striated crown. After the arrival of the curlew, current games begin from wintering. The male rises on trembling wings obliquely upward, flies in circles, emitting loud trills all the time, which resemble the neigh of a foal. From time to time, the current bird lingers in one place, fluttering its wings, slides down and sometimes even turns over its side.
In the southern parts of Primorye and near the Karaginsky Bay in Kamchatka, the Far Eastern curlew N. madagascariensis, which is very similar to the large one, but differs from it in the absence of white on the back and upper tail, nests. It hibernates on the islands of Oceania, Australia and Tasmania. It nests in open mossy and less often in grassy or peat bogs. The smallest curlew in our country is called the little curlew N. minutus. The fate of the Eskimo curlew N. borealis is tragic. Previously, he inhabited the tundra of North America and wintered in the South Pampas. Sometimes it flew to the Chukotka Peninsula and the Anadyr basin. This bird was subjected to unrestricted flight pursuit. The tightly knotted flocks of these birds trusting in relation to man gave an excellent opportunity to exterminate them in the thousands on the arable lands of the Mississippi Valley. Within 30 years, these curlews were completely exterminated.