Is there still hope for the Slender-billed Curlew?

Written by Marko Šćiban/Bird Protection and Study Society of Serbia
On 3 April 2014 in pastures around natron lake Rusanda in north Serbia (Banat region) I observed a strange-looking curlew species with my colleague, Radislav Mirić. It was among a flock of around 400 Whimbrels and 40 Eurasian Curlews. Bird had a little thinner bill than the surrounding Whimbrels, it was around the same size of Whimbrels or just slightly bigger. It was coloured similarly to Whimbrels/juvenile Slender-billed Curlews, with small spots on a whitish-yellowish background. What made it different from other Whimbrels, was a clearly whitish head without typical dark stripes on the head of Whimbrels. Unfortunately, several minutes after these photos were made, the bird flew up in a direction of a Sun so we did not manage to see it in flight. Pictures are not of a good quality, but at least others can look at it and a discussion can be started. To me it looks like a very good candidate for a Slender-billed Curlew or some odd hybrid between Eurasian Curlew and Whimbrel.
Bellow a few digiscoped images showing the bird in question.

© Marko Šćiban

© Marko Šćiban

© Marko Šćiban

© Marko Šćiban

© Marko Šćiban

© Marko Šćiban

© Marko Šćiban

© Marko Šćiban

© Marko Šćiban

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6 responses to “Is there still hope for the Slender-billed Curlew?

  1. Nice work! The bill & size certainly draw attention to this bird. Apart from that, not sure. The bill looks very long – in some images looks longer than it should be for SbC. Structurally it looks odd, primary extension is difficult to discern, but looks to fall short of the tail tip, if anything. As it stands it would not get my hopes up too much, but it’s a bird that I very much hope is refound in better circumstances for observation.

  2. From these photos I can say imm. Curlew or hybrid Curlew/Whimbrel.
    The bird looks bulkier and the bill is longer for tenuirostris, also lacks the dark cap /from your description/, which is good field mark.

  3. Hi Marko!
    In my opinion the cap is very pale, the neck and bill is long for SBC. Also the bird general aspect with large, bulky body not really good for SBC.

  4. I had two “light-headed” birds of this kind in July 2012 in the staging area for Whimbrels on the heath of Skanör, Skåne, Sweden. Never came closer than c250 m, and morning fog precludes photos. The Whimbrels of the Baltic area are heavily hunted somewhere, different kinds of shot damage seen each year.

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