Numenius arquata | Eurasian Curlew | Crotach



Conservation status

This species is Red-listed according to Birds of Conservation Concern in Ireland 2020-2026 and is of high conservation value as a result.

The most recent IUCN Red List assessment, carried out in 2017, lists the Curlew as a ‘Near Threatened’ species on a global scale, with a decreasing population trend. 

Species Biology


The Curlew is the largest wader in Europe and can be identified by its long, downward facing, curved bill, brown upperparts with intricate dark brown markings, and long neck and legs.

Upon first glance, it may be confused with the Whimbrel, a similar looking wader of the same Genus, but the Curlew is a physically larger bird.

The Curlew stands at 50-60 cm in length with a wingspan of 80-100 cm and a weight range of 575-1,000 grams. The female is larger, typically weighing closer to the 1 kg mark, with the smaller male weighing closer to 770 grams. 


The Curlew primarily feeds on invertebrates such as ragworms, crabs, molluscs and shrimps in winter and Tipulidae larvae and earthworms while in grassland during the summer (European Commission, 2007).



Curlew occur along most of Ireland’s estuaries and in damp grassland.

Breeding occurs in rough pasture, meadows and other areas of semi-natural vegetation.


The Curlew lays a clutch of four eggs, each weighing approximately 76 grams, from mid-late April to late-May. These eggs are incubated for a period of 27-29 days.

The young will fledge after 32-38 days.

A typical wild curlew can be expected to live for around 11 years with breeding occurring in the second year.

Conservation actions

Resulting from the overall decline in breeding Curlew in Ireland, programmes such as the Curlew Conservation Programme have been implemented with the intention of protecting Curlew nesting attempts and increasing habitat suitability for the species.


World distribution(GBIF)

Irish distribution

The small Irish breeding population is now largely confined to the midlands and northwest of the country. The resident population is bolstered each winter by visitors from Europe. 

Temporal change

Records submitted to Data Centre in 2023

The following map is interactive. If you would prefer to view it full screen then click here.



European Commission, 2007. MANAGEMENT PLAN for CURLEW (Numenius arquata). [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 10 Jun. 2021].