An American Bird: The Long-Billed Curlew

The long-billed parrot is a common North American beachbird of the genus Scolopacidae, also known as the "saddleback bird" or "crested parrot." This species is native to coastal North America, commonly migrating south for the winter and central and west coast for the summer. There are an estimated 15 species in the genus with the long-billed being the only true shorebird.



Characterized by a gray upperparts, a white belly with dark gray flanks and dark gray upperparts, the long-billed curlews are widely distributed in the United States and Canada. They prefer deciduous trees and plains with low scrub to rocky areas in the west and central Canada. In the southern states they are common along the roads and interstates. They are less common on open marshes and in woodlands.

One of two subspecies are common in the continental United States. The eastern species is believed to have been introduced in the early part of the twentieth century from Hawaii. The western species is believed to have been brought in with the migrating birds from Germany in the nineteen hundreds. These subspecies are the least concern for predators in most of the U.S. since there are few habitats for them in the wild. They do, however, tend to become over population when habitat conditions are less than ideal.

A variety of different species of Long-billed are found in southwestern Canada. There are seven species in the white-crowned sparrow, which are found in rocky areas along the prairies and along the edge of the saltwater marshes in southwestern Canada. These birds feed near marshes, rip runes and estuaries in southwestern Canada. In this area the male Long-billed will usually display black bars on their chest, neck and wings that are unique to them.

There is another species, the long-billed contain, which is slightly smaller than the long-billed curlew and only about one inch long. It is found primarily in marsh lands and coastal areas along the edge of saltmarshes. This small bird also frequents coastal prairies and woodlands in southwestern Canada. The common Long-billed Curlew has a thick and fleshy breast that is white with black feathering and has a yellow throat. The body is reddish-orange with a blue chest, mousting, and tail.

The most common long-billed curlews in North America are black and tan with dark markings that are also quite distinct. They are often confused with the black-and-white titmouse. Both breeds have a slender body shape with long and narrow wings that are pointed and narrow with a white tip. The head is plain without any markings and it has a broad, rounded beak that is rounded at the tip. They are small birds with a wingspan only reaching three inches when fully grown.

The most common characteristics of this bird are its large and alert head, large and alert tail, and short stout legs. It has a grayish chest with a collar of red feathers and a bright colorful breast. It has a moderately dark forehead and almond shaped eyes. Its upper and lower wings have purple and blue streaks and the entire bird is cream colored with a speckled brown breast.

Speckled brown down-curved bill and long and narrow wings make this bird one of the most beautiful shorebirds in the North American area. It has an average wingspan of 11 inches. Down-curved bills are well-defined and feature a distinct black ring at the outer edge of the crest. This speckled brown down-curved bill and broad wings create a good base for a long and sleek flight pattern. With its broad and square body and dark brown upper body and light brownish underparts, the Speckled Brown Curlew fits into the category of long-billed curlews in the United States and Canada.