Numenius phaeopus

Image of a whimbrel, Numenius phaeopus, standing in the sand.
Image by Alan Schmierer on Flickr, public domain

Physical: Whimbrels are elegant wading birds with a distinct profile, highlighted by a long, curved bill. Their overall plumage is a blend of rich brown and cream, streaked and spotted in patterns that provide effective camouflage in marshy and coastal terrains. Measuring about 15-18 inches in length, the curve of their bill is particularly noticeable and helps set them apart from other shorebirds.

Habitat: Whimbrels have a wide range, spanning several continents. They breed in the Arctic tundra and migrate to coastal areas, estuaries, and even some inland freshwater sites during the non-breeding season.

Feeding: The long, curved bill of the Whimbrel is adept at probing into mud and sand to extract invertebrates, including worms, mollusks, and crustaceans. They also eat insects and, on occasion, small fish. Their keen sense of touch allows them to detect prey hidden deep below the surface.

Breeding: Nesting in the Arctic, Whimbrels create a simple ground nest in a well-hidden location, typically lined with bits of vegetation. The female usually lays a clutch of 3-4 eggs. Both parents assist in incubation, and once the eggs hatch, the young are relatively independent, though they still rely on their parents for guidance and protection.

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