Curlews (Numenius) More Bird Resources Shorebirds Types of Birds Eight Numenius species, most with the name curlew, fly North American skies and prod the watery bottoms of its shorelines. One glance at the photos on the page suggests that long bills characterize the Numenius. The Long-billed Curlew (Numenius americanus), a bird of extremes, is the largest North American shorebird, the largest billed North American shorebird, and one of the continent's most endangered shorebirds. Their migratory pattern takes them to breeding grounds in western grasslands and winters along the Texas Gulf Coast. Habitat destruction poses danger to the population. Their diet varies depending on their location. Local insects such as grasshoppers are a favorite in the grasslands of their inland breeding range. Along the coast they also eat small marine organisms such as shrimp. The Whimbrel (Numenius americanus) resembles the Long-billed Curlew. The smaller bill and more defined head stripes serve as the basic field identification clues. Their feathers also tend to be a duller shade of brown that Curlew feathers. They rank at the top of the world's great fliers, breeding in the Arctic and returning to many areas of the Northern and Southern Hemisphere (including Australia and South America) for winter. Small wintering populations can be found along the coastal areas of the United States where they feed on local crustaceans. © 2006-2011 Patricia A. Michaels.