Wildlife artist John James Audubon’s famous portrait illustration of two Eskimo curlews as seen during his 1833 research expedition to Labrador. Jean-Jacques-Fougère Audubon (1785-1851). From Wikimedia Commons
It is — or was — a long-legged shorebird about the size of a mourning dove, with mottled brown feathers and a distinctively long, thin, downward-curving beak.
For the Eskimo curlew, a once-plentiful species of sandpiper that’s eerily linked in history to a better-known North American bird — the passenger pigeon — this is a watershed year.
Before the end of this summer, exactly 50 years will have passed since the last time an Eskimo Curlew was seen alive anywhere in its vast range between Arctic Canada — where all that ever lived were hatched in northwest tundra breeding grounds — and its winter home on the pampas of Argentina.