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Hudsonian whimbrel facts for kids

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Hudsonian whimbrel
Numenius hudsonicus Zarapito trinador Hudsonian Whimbrel (15366704908).jpg
Scientific classification
Numenius hudsonicus map.svg
  • Scolopax phæopus hudsonicus

The Hudsonian whimbrel (Numenius hudsonicus) is a wader in the large family Scolopacidae. It is one of the most widespread of the curlews, breeding across much of subarctic North America. This species and the Eurasian whimbrel have recently been split, although some taxonomic authorities still consider them to be conspecific.

The whimbrel is a migratory bird, wintering on coasts in southern North America and South America. It is also a coastal bird during migration. It is fairly gregarious outside the breeding season.

In the mangroves of Colombia, whimbrel roost sites are located in close proximity to feeding territories and away from potential sources of mainland predators, but not away from areas of human disturbance.


This is a fairly large wader, though mid-sized as a member of the curlew genus. The English name is imitative of the bird's call. The genus name Numenius is from Ancient Greek noumenios, a bird mentioned by Hesychius. It is associated with the curlews because it appears to be derived from neos, "new" and mene "moon", referring to the crescent-shaped bill.

It is 37–47 cm (15–19 in) in length, 75–90 cm (30–35 in) in wingspan, and 270–493 g (9.5–17.4 oz; 0.595–1.087 lb) in weight. It is mainly greyish brown, with a white back, and a long curved bill (longest in the adult female) with a kink rather than a smooth curve. It is generally wary.

The usual call is a rippling whistle, prolonged into a trill for the song.

The only similar common species over most of this bird's range are larger curlews. The whimbrel is smaller, has a shorter, decurved bill and has a central crown stripe and strong supercilia.


There are 2 subspecies:

  • Numenius hudsonicus rufiventrisVigors, 1829: found in Alaska and northwestern Canada
  • Numenius hudsonicus hudsonicusLatham, 1790: (Hudsonian curlew) found in Hudson Bay area to northeastern Canada


This species feeds by probing soft mud for small invertebrates and by picking small crabs and similar prey off the surface. Before migration, berries become an important part of their diet.

The nest is a bare scrape on tundra or Arctic moorland. Three to five eggs are laid. Adults are very defensive of nesting area and will even attack humans who come too close.

Near the end of the 19th century, hunting on their migration routes took a heavy toll on this bird's numbers; the population has since recovered.

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