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length: 50-60 centimeters
wingspan: 80-100 centimeters


770-1000 grams


gray-brown with dark spots and stripes


record: 31 years


on land: insects and worms on the mudflats: crustaceans, crabs, shellfish and lugworms


maturity: age 2
number of eggs per nest: 4

  • Dut: Wulp
  • Eng: Curlew
  • Fren: Courlis cendré
  • Ger: Grosser Brachvogel
  • Dan: Stor Regnspove
  • Nor: Storspove
  • Frisian: Wylp
  • Ital: Chiurlo
  • Lat: Numenius arquata
Curlew, foto fitis. adriaan dijksen


It's not difficult to recognize a curlew. It has a long beak curved downward. This long beak can be seen from a long distance. And if you can't recognize it by sight, then you just need to use your ears! You can't mistake the sound they make: a kind of yoddling vibration. Once you've heard it, you'll never mistake it.

On Texel

Curlew, foto fitis, adriaan dijksen

In 2009, 108 pairs of curlews nesten on Texel, which is stable compared to other years. However, the bulk of the curlews are present in the winter months. On October 14 2009, 5000 curlews were counted on the nature area the Schorren. The Texels name for curlews is 'pipepluuzers' (pipe cleaners). Skulls found in the fields made a usefull instrument: the beak was used to scrape the inside of a pipe. The bird has another Texels nickname: reegefluuter (rain whistler). When you hear curlews singing after a drought, you can expect rain.

  • Distribution and habitat
    Curlew, foto fitis, adriaan dijksen

    Curlews can be observed the entire year. Most of them are found along the Wadden Sea and the delta region, although they also brood further inland. Curlews nest in open dunes, heather fields, driftsands and grasslands. On the Wadden Islands, you find them mostly in the dunes, but fewer than in the past. Dutch nesting birds migrate south in the summer. Northern nesting birds take their place, spending the winter in the wadden and delta regions. In 2002/2003, 120,000 curlews overwintered on the Dutch wadden tidal flats.

  • Loving father
    Curlew, foto fitis, adriaan dijksen

    In the early spring, male curlews have a territory. They make it known to others with their impressive courtship flight and yodelling song. After all the eggs have hatched, the female often leaves the care to the father. She either goes south or just doesn't bother with the young. The care from the parents doesn't mean all that much anyway. The chicks must look for their own food. All the parents ever do is guard them and keep them warm.

    Guarding the nest takes place in two ways. Approaching crows, harriers and other birds of this size are attacked. If the enemy is too large, than the curlew uses a different tactic. The parent pretends to be wounded in a clearly visible area. The attacker sees an easy victim and pursues it. When the attacker is close, the curlew jumps ahead and lures the enemy away from the nest.