Calidris ferruginea (Pontoppidan, 1763)
Family: Charadriiformes > Scolopacidae
A bit larger than a Dunlin, with a similarly down-curved bill, most records of this migratory wader are in the autumn.
This species breeds in northern Siberia and a small proportion of individuals migrate through Britain & Ireland to wintering grounds in western Africa. Autumn numbers are variable, and most of the records received through BirdTrack fall between August and early October. Birds present in July likely represent those whose breeding attempt has failed.
In winter it has a rather drab, grey appearance, but in summer dons an unmistakable brick-red dress that provides surprisingly good camouflage in its tundra breeding habitat.
Curlew Sandpiper identification is sometimes difficult. The following article may help when identifying Curlew Sandpiper.
In the UK in late Summer some may be daunted by the prospect of identifying individual species in frequent groups of small waders. The key to differing between many of these small, plump birds is to become accustomed with Dunlin first. In this Bird ID video we compare Sanderling and Curlew Sandpiper to their more well-recognised cousin.
Listen to example recordings of the main vocalisations of Curlew Sandpiper, provided by xeno-canto contributors.
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Status and Trends
Population size and trends and patterns of distribution based on BTO surveys and atlases with data collected by BTO volunteers.
This species can be found on the following statutory and conservation listings and schedules.
Curlew Sandpipers are most frequently reported while on autumn passage in July–October and are scarce in spring. Over half the occupied 10-km squares on the winter distribution map are late-autumn migrants recorded in November. The few records of true wintering birds are all from coastal marshes or estuaries.
Occupied 10-km squares in UK
|No. occupied in winter||47|
|% occupied in winter||1.6|
|% change in range in winter (1981–84 to 2007–11)||+287.5%|
Curlew Sandpipers are regular passage migrant, mostly in autumn when numbers are swelled by returning juveniles.
Information about movement and migration based on online bird portals (e.g. BirdTrack), Ringing schemes and tracking studies.
Lifecycle and body size information about Curlew Sandpiper, including statistics on nesting, eggs and lifespan based on BTO ringing and nest recording data.
View number ringed each year in the Online Ringing Report
|Maximum Age from Ringing||14 years 10 months 20 days (set in 2011)|
|Juveniles||132.2±2.8 | Range 127-136mm, N=72|
|Juveniles||63.6±9.8383 | Range 48.5–78.5g, N=67|
Feather measurements and photos on featherbase
|Field Codes||2-letter: CV | 5-letter code: CURSA | Euring: 5090|
For information in another language (where available) click on a linked name
Interpretation and scientific publications about Curlew Sandpiper from BTO scientists.
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