Family Sandpipers, Snipes, Phalaropes (Scolopacidae)

Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct)

Eskimo Curlew (Numenius borealis)


French: Courlis esquimau German: Eskimobrachvogel Spanish: Zarapito esquimal

Scolopax borealis

J. R. Forster

, 1772,

Fort Albany, Hudson Bay, Canada


Closely related to N. minutus (which see), with which formerly regarded as conspecific. Monotypic.


CN Canada, on S shore and inland of Amundsen Gulf along Coppermine R to Point L; possibly also N Alaska. Winters in Uruguay and Argentina, and perhaps in S Brazil and Chile. Probably extinct (no confirmed sightings since the early 1980s).

Descriptive notes

29–38 cm; 270–454 g; wingspan 70 cm. Tiny curlew with rather short bill and legs; dark eyestripe and black crown streaked pale buff; upperparts with brown-buff... read more


Very poorly known; observations on breeding grounds refer to a ‘prolonged mellow whistle’, while... read more


Barren Arctic tundra, just N of treeline and lowlands along coast. In Maritime Provinces of Canada... read more

Food and feeding

On breeding grounds, takes ants, grubs and freshwater insects; also large proportions of crowberries. On southward migration, feeds mainly... read more


Not well known. Laying probably in Jun, and birds seen on nesting grounds from late May to early Aug. Nest a mere hollow in barren ground,... read more


Migratory, often in company of American Golden Plovers (Pluvialis dominicus); leaves... read more

Status and conservation

CRITICALLY ENDANGERED (POSSIBLY EXTINCT). CITES I. World population estimated at 50 birds in 1992. Apparently very abundant pre-1850, possibly numbering hundreds of thousands... read more

Recommended citation

Van Gils, J., Wiersma, P., Sharpe, C.J. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Eskimo Curlew (Numenius borealis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 6 December 2019).