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Photograph by James Wood

Grey brown upperparts spotted white and white underparts streaked with brown. There is a pale crown stripe and a dark eyestripe. The bill is dark brown with a pale base, long and curved downward. The legs are long and grey. Both sexes are similar with the female being larger. The immature are similar to the adult. The size is approximately 44 cm (17 in) and weight 310-493 g (10.94-17.4 ounces).

This bird breeds in Alaska and northern Canada and is a winter visitor to Trinidad and Tobago. Whimbrels migrate from their breeding grounds to the east coast of Canada where they feed on berries and then fly non-stop across the ocean to the Caribbean and South America.

In Trinidad they are found on mudflats (but avoid very soft mud), along the sea shore and in swamps. They feed on marine invertebrates, especially small crabs, insects and berries. It uses its long, down-curved bill to probe deep in the sand of beaches for invertebrates. With regard to crabs, the curve of the Whimbrel's bill fits the shape of fiddler crab burrows. The bird reaches into the crab's burrow, extracts the crab and sometimes breaks off the claws and legs before swallowing it. If the crab is muddy, they will wash it before eating. Whimbrels are mainly day time feeders, operating in the zone between the high and low tide marks and most active during the high tide.

Family - Sandpiper

Other Names - Hudsonian Curlew

Range - Alaska and northern Canada as far eastward as Hudson Bay, also northern Europe and Russia. Winters on both US coasts, South America, Trinidad and Tobago, also in Africa and India


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Mayaro, Trinidad



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Movietown seafront, Port of Spain, Trinidad



Mangrove and wetland wildlife at Sungei Buloh Nature Park -

University of Guelph,Canada's Aquatic Environment-

Jennings, H. 2005. East Lake Washington Audubon Society at

Birds of Nova Scotia. Robie W. Tufts. 1986 -

Cornell Lab of Ornithology, All About Birds, at

Michel Robert, Raymond McNeil and Alain Leduc, 1989. Conditions and Significance of Night Feeding in Shorebirds and Other Waterbirds in a Tropical Lagoon. The Auk, Vol. 106, 94 - 101

Puerto Rico's Birds in Photographs. 2nd edition, Mark Oberle. 2003, Editorial Humanitas, Seattle Washington

Birds of Venezuela. Steven L. Hilty. 2003, Christopher Helm, London

A Guide to the Birds of Trinidad and Tobago. 2nd edition, Richard ffrench. 1992, Helm, London

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All photographs (unless otherwise stated) are the property of Brian Ramsey. No portion of the material on this site, including the photographs, may be reproduced without the express written consent of Outdoor Business Group Limited and Brian Ramsey. The permission of the other owners of the photographs must also be obtained for use.   

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Last modified: February 19, 2008