Long-billed Curlew - Numenius americanus
The Long-billed Curlew is the largest shorebird in North America. It is considered an endemic to the Great Plains (Knopf 1996). The Long-billed Curlew's long, decurved bill is adapted for capturing invertebrates living in mudflats on its wintering grounds (Dugger and Dugger 2002). Its familiar curlew call can be heard throughout the mixedgrass prairie of Montana during the spring and summer.
Migrants arrive in Montana late March to mid-April. Adults observed on nests with eggs in mid- to late-May. Adults with young birds observed in early June to early July. Females leave breeding grounds before males; tagged females left around June 28 and tagged males left July 28 (see Migration, below).
From Dugger and Dugger 2002. The large size, long decurved bill, and cinnamon color is diagnostic of this species. Sexes are similar in appearance, but females average slightly larger than males. Plumages are similar throughout the year. Body is a rich buff tinged with cinnamon or pink. Upperparts are streaked with dark brown. Juveniles are similar to adults except the bill is much shorter.
The Long-billed Curlew occurs throughout Montana except for extreme Northwest Montana and the southern Bitterroot (Montana Bird Distribution Committee 2012).
Summary of Observations Submitted for Montana
Number of Observations:
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(direct evidence "B")
(indirect evidence "b")
No evidence of Breeding
(regular observations "W")
(at least one obs. "w")
(Records associated with a range of dates are excluded from time charts)
Fourteen birds breeding in Phillips County were tracked with satellite transmitters between 2009 and 2011. All individuals migrated east of the Rocky Mountains via direct routes to wintering areas in the Texas Panhandle south to the Mexican Plateau or near the Gulf of Mexico; total distances averaging 2,500 to 2,700 km (Page et al. 2014). Northbound migrations took place between mid March and mid April and averaged 29 days (range = 15-41). Southbound migrations took place between early July and early September and averaged 68 days (range 4-119). Males arrived at breeding areas earlier and departed later than females. Montana birds stopped more often and for longer time periods than Oregon and Nevada birds (Page et al. 2014).
The Long-billed Curlew breeds in mixedgrass prairie habitats throughout Montana. It prefers open, short-statured grasslands and avoids areas with trees or tall shrubs.
Ecological Systems Associated with this Species
- Details on Creation and Suggested Uses and Limitations
How Associations Were Made
We associated the use and habitat quality (high, medium, or low) of each of the 82 ecological systems mapped in Montana for
vertebrate animal species that regularly breed, overwinter, or migrate through the state by:
- Using personal observations and reviewing literature that summarize the breeding, overwintering, or migratory habitat requirements of each species (Dobkin 1992, Hart et al. 1998, Hutto and Young 1999, Maxell 2000, Foresman 2001, Adams 2003, and Werner et al. 2004);
- Evaluating structural characteristics and distribution of each ecological system relative to the species’ range and habitat requirements;
- Examining the observation records for each species in the state-wide point database associated with each ecological system;
- Calculating the percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system to get a measure of “observations versus availability of habitat”.
Species that breed in Montana were only evaluated for breeding habitat use, species that only overwinter in Montana were only evaluated for overwintering habitat use, and species that only migrate through Montana were only evaluated for migratory habitat use.
In general, species were associated as using an ecological system if structural characteristics of used habitat documented in the literature were present in the ecological system or large numbers of point observations were associated with the ecological system.
However, species were not associated with an ecological system if there was no support in the literature for use of structural characteristics in an ecological system, even if
point observations were associated with that system.
High, medium, and low habitat quality was assigned based on the degree to which the structural characteristics of an ecological system matched the preferred structural habitat characteristics for each species in the literature.
The percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system was also used to guide assignments of habitat quality.
If you have any questions or comments on species associations with ecological systems, please contact Bryce Maxell at email@example.com
or (406) 444-3655.
Suggested Uses and Limitations
Species associations with ecological systems should be used to generate potential lists of species that may occupy broader landscapes for the purposes of landscape-level planning.
These potential lists of species should not be used in place of documented occurrences of species (this information can be requested at: http://mtnhp.org/requests/default.asp
) or systematic surveys for species and evaluations of habitat at a local site level by trained biologists.
Users of this information should be aware that the land cover data used to generate species associations is based on imagery from the late 1990s and early 2000s and was only intended to be used at broader landscape scales.
Land cover mapping accuracy is particularly problematic when the systems occur as small patches or where the land cover types have been altered over the past decade.
Thus, particular caution should be used when using the associations in assessments of smaller areas (e.g., evaluations of public land survey sections).
Finally, although a species may be associated with a particular ecological system within its known geographic range, portions of that ecological system may occur outside of the species’ known geographic range.
- Adams, R.A. 2003. Bats of the Rocky Mountain West; natural history, ecology, and conservation. Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado. 289 p.
- Dobkin, D. S. 1992. Neotropical migrant land birds in the Northern Rockies and Great Plains. USDA Forest Service, Northern Region. Publication No. R1-93-34. Missoula, MT.
- Foresman, K.R. 2001. The wild mammals of Montana. Special Publication No. 12. Lawrence, KS: The American Society of Mammalogists. 278 p.
- Hart, M.M., W.A. Williams, P.C. Thornton, K.P. McLaughlin, C.M. Tobalske, B.A. Maxell, D.P. Hendricks, C.R. Peterson, and R.L. Redmond. 1998. Montana atlas of terrestrial vertebrates. Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit, University of Montana, Missoula, MT. 1302 p.
- Hutto, R.L. and J.S. Young. 1999. Habitat relationships of landbirds in the Northern Region, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station RMRS-GTR-32. 72 p.
- Maxell, B.A. 2000. Management of Montana’s amphibians: a review of factors that may present a risk to population viability and accounts on the identification, distribution, taxonomy, habitat use, natural history, and the status and conservation of individual species. Report to U.S. Forest Service Region 1. Missoula, MT: Wildlife Biology Program, University of Montana. 161 p.
- Werner, J.K., B.A. Maxell, P. Hendricks, and D. Flath. 2004. Amphibians and reptiles of Montana. Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Publishing Company. 262 p.
Eggs are reported during the last two weeks of May and into mid-June (Davis 1961).
- Literature Cited AboveLegend: View WorldCat Record View Online Publication
- Davis, C.V. 1961. A distributional study of the birds of Montana. Ph.D. dissertation. Oregon State University, Corvallis. 462 pp.
- Additional ReferencesLegend: View WorldCat Record View Online Publication
Do you know of a citation we're missing?
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- American Ornithologists' Union. 1998. Check-list of North American birds. 7th edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C. 829 pp.
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- Dobkin, D. S. 1992. Neotropical migrant landbirds in the Northern Rockies and Great Plains. U.S.D.A. For. Serv. N. Region Publ. R1-93-34. Missoula, Mont.
- Dobkin, D.S. 1994. Conservation and management of neotropical migrant landbirds in the Northern Rockies and Great Plains. Univ. Idaho Press, Moscow, Idaho. 220 pp.
- Dugger, B. D. and K. M. Dugger. 2002. Longbilled Curlew (Numenius americanus). In The Birds of North America, No. 628. (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.) The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA. 28 pp.
- Dugger, Bruce D., and Katie M. Dugger. 2002. Long-billed Curlew (Numenius americanus). Species Account Number 628. The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca, NY: Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology; Retrieved 3/25/2008 from The Birds of North America Online database
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- Lenard, S., J. Carlson, J. Ellis, C. Jones, and C. Tilly. 2003. P. D. Skaar's Montana Bird Distribution, 6th Edition. Montana Audubon: Helena, MT, 144 pp.
- McCallum, D.A., W. Graul AND R. Zaccagnini, 1977. The breeding status of the Long-billed Curlew. Auk 94: 599-601.
- Montana Bird Distribution Committee. 2012. P.D. Skaar's Montana bird distribution. 7th Edition. Montana Audubon, Helena, Montana. 208 pp. + foldout map.
- Page, G.W. and R.E. Gill, Jr. 1994. Shorebirds in western North America: late 1800s to late 1900s. Studies in Avian Biology, Number 15: 147-160.
- Pampush, G.L. and R.G. Anthony. 1993. Nest success, habitat utilization and nest site selection of Long-billed Curlews in the Columbia Basin, Oregon. Condor 95:954-967.
- Powder River Eagle Studies, Inc., Gillette, WY., 2000, Spring Creek Mine 1999 Wildlife Monitoring. March 2000.
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- Powder River Eagle Studies, Inc., Gillette, WY., 2002, Spring Creek Mine 2001 Wildlife Monitoring. March 2002
- Redmond, R.L., and D.A. Jenni. 1986. Population ecology of the Long-billed Curlew (Numenius americanus) in western Idaho. Auk 103:755-767.
- U.S. Forest Service. 1991. Forest and rangeland birds of the United States: Natural history and habitat use. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service Agricultural Handbook 688. 625 pages.
- Walcheck, Kenneth C., 1999, The Lewis & Clark Expedition: Montana's first bird inventory through the eyes of Lewis and Clark.
- Western Technology and Engineering, Inc. (WESTECH)., 1989, Wildlife monitoring: Absaloka Mine Area Annual Report, 1989. 12/21/88-12/20/89. Montana SMP 85005 R1. OSMP Montana 0007B. Febr. 15, 1990.
- Western Technology and Engineering, Inc. (WESTECH)., 1997, Wildlife Monitoring Absaloka Mine Area Annual Report, 1996. Montana SMP 85005. OSMP Montana 0007D. Mar. 1997.