I do, however, have a Bird of the Week. It is the Long-billed Curlew. If you are still in San Carlos, now is the time to head to any of the estuaries to see this almost comical bird. He only winters here and will be leaving soon. Like the Marbled Godwit which I wrote about last week, this large bird is actually a Sandpiper but definitely not a little peep as we birders refer to the tiny sandpipers along the shore. He is defined by his extremely long bill. His bill is “decurved” which means it points downwards rather than that slight up tilt the Godwit has.
Here we see the Curlew almost exclusively at the estuaries, but in migration you could well spot him on lakes or river shores as well as mudflats, salt marshes or sandy beaches. He is adaptable. He will feed on insects, worms, crustaceans, mollusks and small vertebrates including the eggs and young of other birds. We usually see him here probing the mud flats. While the Long-billed Curlew looks like it might tip over any moment, it is a very attractive bird. If you are lucky enough to see him fly, you can identify him by the cinnamon-brown underwings. They are gorgeous.
The Long-billed Curlew is the largest shorebird in North America. But, you may say, “How can that be because I see birds along the shore of the estuary that are much larger?” You are correct; but, those birds (such as our herons and egrets) are not shorebirds. They are wading birds. And that is as far as I am willing to wade today into the complex world of Birdlandia. Or bad puns.
As always, if you have comments or questions, you may contact me at [email protected]
by Mary Tannehill