The Far Eastern Curlew is the largest shorebird in the world weighing in at around 1.2 kilograms and is only found in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway.

An Eastern Curlew in flight over water

The bill length of the Far Eastern Curlew can help to tell it apart from other shorebirds. Unlike a Whimbrel, its curved beak is so long that if it turned its head around, it could touch its tail.

A Far Eastern Curlew preening its tail feather on the beach
Eastern Curlew
Whimbrel standing on the beach

Far-eastern Curlews are also seen on occassion with vagrant Eurasian Curlews. To verify the latter, look for the white rump and tail easily seen during flight.

Two Eurasian Curlews in flight showing their white rumps
Eurasian Curlews in flight
Cartoon world map showing distribution of the Far Eastern Curlew
The Far Eastern Curlew breeds in Russia and Northeastern China, including Mongolia. When in Australia, Far-eastern Curlews prefer to feed in mudflats with seagrass beds. Here, they use their long, curved bills to probe deep into the mud to pull out crabs and molluscs.
Over the last 30 years, the Far Eastern Curlew has declined by 30-49% in Australia. Habitat loss in key stopover sites along the Flyway is the biggest threat to this species. It is now listed as Critically Endangered in Australia and Endangered on the IUCN Red List.
Around 73% of the population spend their time here in the non-breeding season. Thus Australians have a special responsibility to protect this Curlew and its habitat.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List


Australian EPBC Act

Critically Endangered

Similar Species

Image credits:
Cathy Cavallo
Cathy recently completed her PhD in Ecology and is a communicator with a passion for natural history, connecting people with nature and photography. When she isn’t running operations and social media for Remember The Wild, you’ll find her in the bush or underwater.
Book cover for A Shorebird Flying Adventure

A Shorebird Flying Adventure

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Join Milly on her microlight and discover how amazing and awesome migratory shorebirds are!

Milly Formby is a zoologist and illustrator of the children’s book A Shorebird Flying Adventure (CSIRO Publishing).  She is currently flying her microlight around Australia for Wing Threads: Flight Around Oz.

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