Curlew Sandpiper

Calidris ferruginea (Pontoppidan, 1763) CV CURSA 5090
Family: Charadriiformes > Scolopacidae

Curlew Sandpiper, Philip Croft

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.

Select a topic for more facts and statistics about the Curlew Sandpiper

  • Breeding
  • Winter


Curlew Sandpiper identification is sometimes difficult. The following article may help when identifying Curlew Sandpiper.

related video

Identifying Sanderling and 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.


Develop your bird ID skills with our training courses

Our interactive online courses are a great way to develop your bird identification skills, whether you're new to the hobby or a competent birder looking to hone your abilities.

Browse training courses

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.


We have no population estimates for this scarce species.


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



Curlew Sandpipers are regular passage migrant, mostly in autumn when numbers are swelled by returning juveniles.

Weekly occurence of Curlew Sandpiper from BirdTrack
Weekly occurrence patterns (shaded cells) and reporting rates (vertical bars) based on BirdTrack data. Reporting rates give the likelihood of encountering the species each week.


Information about movement and migration based on online bird portals (e.g. BirdTrack), Ringing schemes and tracking studies.


View a summary of recoveries in the Online Ringing Report.

Foreign locations of birds ringed or recovered in Britain & Ireland

Foreign locations of Curlew Sandpiper ringed or recovered in Britain & Ireland
Encountered in: Winter (Nov-Feb); Spring (Mar-Apr); Summer (May-Jul); Autumn (Aug-Oct)


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


Feather measurements and photos on featherbase


For information in another language (where available) click on a linked name

Gaelic: Luatharan-guilbneach
Welsh: Pibydd Cambig
Catalan: territ becllarg
Czech: jespák krivozobý
Danish: Krumnæbbet Ryle
Dutch: Krombekstrandloper
Estonian: kõvernokk-rüdi e. kõvernokk-risla
Finnish: kuovisirri
French: Bécasseau cocorli
German: Sichelstrandläufer
Hungarian: sarlós partfutó
Icelandic: Spóatíta
Irish: Gobadán Crotaigh
Italian: Piovanello comune
Latvian: likšnibitis
Lithuanian: riestasnapis begikas
Norwegian: Tundrasnipe
Polish: biegus krzywodzioby
Portuguese: pilrito-de-bico-comprido
Slovak: pobrežník krivozobý
Slovenian: srpokljuni prodnik
Spanish: Correlimos zarapitín
Swedish: spovsnäppa


Interpretation and scientific publications about Curlew Sandpiper from BTO scientists.


Peer-reviewed papers

Curlew Sandpipers on the Wash

1995 | Adams, S.Wash Wader Ringing Group Report 1993-94

Links to more information from

Would you like to search for another species?