Numenius borealis J. R. Forster, 1772:411,431

Eskimo curlew (see Greenway, 1967:264 for a list of regional names)



Taxonomy & Nomenclature

Synonym/s: Phaeopus borealis Forster, 1772:411,431; Scolopax borealis Forster, 1772:411,431


Conservation Status


Last record: 1939 (wintering grounds); 4 September 1963 (Barbados) (Robbins, 2018:84); 1987? (Suckling et al. 2004)

IUCN RedList status: Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct)



Americas (migratory)


Biology & Ecology




The last known specimen:

The last confirmed record of the species is of an individual shot on Barbados, on 4 September 1963, now accessioned as ANSP 169796 (Robbins, 2018:84).


There are 52 specimens in the MCZ's ornithology collection, Harvard University:

Ornithology 100627 (male)

Ornithology 100628 (female)

Ornithology 148175 (sex unspecified)

Ornithology 15387 (female)

Ornithology 171759 (male)

Ornithology 182290 (sex unspecified)

Ornithology 182291 (female)

Ornithology 182292 (male)

Ornithology 188626 (male)

Ornithology 204960 (male)

Ornithology 206715 (male)

Ornithology 206716 (female)

Ornithology 219172 (male)

Ornithology 219174 (male)

Ornithology 231148 (sex unspecified)

Ornithology 231149 (female)

Ornithology 247825 (male)

Ornithology 247826 (male)

Ornithology 247827 (female)

Ornithology 254817 (female)

Ornithology 271621 (sex unspecified)

Ornithology 301738 (male)

Ornithology 301739 (male)

Ornithology 301740 (male)

Ornithology 301741 (female)

Ornithology 301742 (female)

Ornithology 301743 (male)

Ornithology 30508 (sex unspecified)

Ornithology 30509 (sex unspecified)

Ornithology 30510 (sex unspecified)

Ornithology 311929 (female)

Ornithology 31206 (female)

Ornithology 31207 (female)

Ornithology 313495 (sex unspecified)

Ornithology 315235 (female)

Ornithology 315591 (male)

Ornithology 318909 (sex unspecified)

Ornithology 318910 (sex unspecified)

Ornithology 318911 (sex unspecified)

Ornithology 328583 (male)

Ornithology 328584 (male)

Ornithology 342028 (sex unspecified)

Ornithology 342348 (male)

Ornithology 42493 (female)

Ornithology 58360 (sex unspecified)

Ornithology 63236 (sex unspecified)

Ornithology 71586 (female)

Ornithology 71587 (sex unspecified)

Ornithology 73329 (sex unspecified)

Ornithology 7475 (sex unspecified)

Ornithology 84053 (sex unspecified)

Ornithology 84443 (sex unspecified)


For details of all records search "Numenius borealis" at:



All four known historical photos of living Eskimo curlews, all taken in April 1962 on Galveston Island, Texas, were published in (Melling, 2010), including a previously unpublished colour photograph. Melling (2010) also includes a fifth possible photo, also taken on Galveston Island in April 1962, but with a seemingly deeper bill, that may or may not be an Eskimo curlew.



Original scientific description:

Forster, J. R. (1772). An account of the birds sent from Hudson's Bay; with observations relative to their natural history; and latin descriptions of some of the most uncommon. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society 62: 383-433.


Other references:

Aldrich, J. (1978). Eskimo Curlew. U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, unpublished  report. 11 pp.

Anonymous. (1964). List of rare birds, including those thought to be so but of which detailed information is still lacking. IUCN Bulletin 10(Special Supplement): 4 pp.

Anonymous. (1994). What can you say about Curlews? Animals & Men 2: 25.

Banks, Richard C. (1977). The decline and fall of the Eskimo Curlew, or why did the curlew go extaille? American Birds 31(2): 127-134.

Barbour, R. (1906). Numenius borealis at sea at 49o N. x 27o W. Auk 23: 459.

BBC Newsround Teletext 3.5.1994

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BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004. CD-ROM. Cambridge, UK: BirdLife International.

BirdLife International. (2011). Species factsheet: Numenius borealis. Downloaded from on 04/07/2011.

BirdLife International. 2021. Numenius borealis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2021: e.T22693170A178901365. Accessed on 06 July 2022.

BirdLife International. 2015. Numenius borealis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T22693170A79178546. Downloaded on 15 October 2016.

Blanco, D., Banchs, R. and Canevari, P. (1993). Critical sites for the Eskimo Curlew (Numenius borealis), and other Nearctic grassland shorebirds in Argentina and Uruguay. Unpublished United States Fish and Wildlife Service Report. Wetlands for the Americas, Manomet, MA and Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Blankinship, David R. and King, Kirke A. (1984). A probable sighting of 23 Eskimo Curlews in Texas. North American Birds 38(6): 1066-1067.

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Braislin, William C. (1907). A Correction: Concerning the Occurrence of Numenius Borealis on Long Island. Auk 24(3): 341.

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Graves, Gary R. (2010). Late 19th Century Abundance Trends of the Eskimo Curlew on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts. Waterbirds 33(2): 236-241.

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Hagar, Joseph A. and Anderson, Kathleen S. (1977). Sight record of Eskimo Curlew (Numenius borealis) on west coast of James Bay, Canada. North American Birds 31(2): 135-136.

Holterhoff, Godfrey. (1884). Eskimo Curlew At San Diego, Cal. Auk 1(4): 393.

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