Documentation of Long-billed Curlew

Observer Information

Reporter:  Chris MacDonald  49 Fawn Lake Rd,   Durango, CO  81301
Other Observers:  Emily MacDonald

Species, Date, Time and Location Information

Species:  Long-billed Curlew
First Date/Time:  3/30/2022 5:30:00 PM
Last Date/Time:  3/30/2022 6:00:00 PM
Duration (total time in view):  30 minutes
County:  La Plata
Specific Location:  Pastorius State Wildlife Area
Number:  1
Age:  Unknown
Sex:  Unknown
Plumage:  Other/Unknown


Mud-bank/shore of Pastorius reservoir. Open area with no reeds, grasses, etc. in immediate area of the bird.

Viewing Conditions

Optics:  Swarovski EL 8.5x42 binoculars, Kowa TSN-883 spotting scope with 25-60x zoom
Distance:  30 yards
Light:  Clear, no rain, light clouds, wind steady about ~7-10 MPH, late afternoon/early evening sun. Bird was in the open with a clear view.

Description of the Bird

First seen by Lisa Wilk of Durango, CO, at Pastorius on 03/30/2022 at around 10:00 AM.  Lisa's sighting is recorded on eBird with a photo.

Single larger sized shore bird.  Larger than nearby Ring-billed Gulls and Northern Shovelers.  Very long decurved bill.  Bill length about the length of the body.  Bill dark grey but a little backlit so hard to see exact color.  Pale grey legs.  Head plan and dark buffy colored.  Supercilium is light buffy colored - lighter color than crown.  Appearance of light buffy colored eye-ring.  Overall color of bird is mottled on back and sides with a combination of buffy/tan and black.  Dark primaries along wing.  Buffy breast with pattern transitioning to buffy belly with no pattern.

Call was a series of two and three note whistle sounding calls slightly ascending.  Audio recording is attached.  Had to upload MP3 file instead of WAV file due to 3 MB file size limit.

Similar Species Discussion

Wimbrel was considered but eliminated because the bird present had a significantly longer bill.  Bill about equal to overall length of body.  Bird present did not have a dark eye-line/eye-stripe.  Size of bird was also larger than a Wimbrel: bird present was larger than neighboring Ring-billed Gull making the bird at least 20" long.

Marbled Godwit was eleminated based upon the bird present having a long bill that was decurved instead of a shorter bill that is slightly recurved in appearance.  Chest and belly of bird present were not patterend like a Marbled Godwit. 

Resources Used

Before heading into the field to find the bird we first looked at photo provided by Lisa Wilk at 10 AM the same day.  Used Sibley's bird guide to compare habitat and body characteristics to photo.  Used Cornell's  "Birds of the World" online bird research database (not the less scientific and less detailed "All About Birds") to research physical characteristics such as size, plumage, photos of the bird, recorded audio calls, habitat, etc.

Once in the field and looking at the bird used field guides to reconfirm ID, habitat, etc.


Previous Experience

This is our first encounter with this species.


Notes made DURING observation

Materials Available

Photographer: Chris MacDonald

Photos | Audio |


Date Documentation Submitted

4/16/2022 9:58:00 AM
Click left or right edges of photos to move through all; click outside image to close

Location Map

The marker on the map shows an approximation of the location of this report. The marker is generated using a prioritized Logic base:
1) If the observer has entered coordinates, they will be shown.
2) No specific coordinates are available but the location is mappable.
3) A generic location with no specific coordinates is mapped to the center of the reported county.

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