Eskimo Curlew: Small curlew, brown mottled upperparts, buff underparts streaked and mottled brown, and pale cinnamon wing linings. Bill is moderately short, not as strongly curved as similar curlews. Crown has two dark stripes. Wings noticeably long on perched bird. Last sighted in Canada in 1982.
Range and Habitat
Eskimo Curlew: Breeds in the far northern reaches of Canada then passes very swiftly through the Great Plains states to and from its wintering ground in South America.
The Eskimo Curlew, first described by Johann Reinhold Forster in 1772, is critically endangered, and possibly extinct. It is also known as the Prairie Pigeon, Fute, Little Curlew, Doe-bird and Doughbird.
At one time, it may have been one of the most numerous shorebirds in North America with a population in the millions. As many as 2 million birds per year were killed near the end of the 19th century.
A comparison of dates and migratory patterns leads to the conclusion that this species and American Golden-Plovers were the most likely shorebirds to have attracted the attention of Christopher Columbus after 65 days at sea on his first voyage.
A group of curlews has many collective nouns, including a "curfew", "game", "head", "salon", and "skein" of curlews.
The Eskimo Curlew is currently rated as Critically Endangered. The 1980s was the last time that this species of bird was reliably recorded. While this bird species was once abundant, it has declined at a rapid rate due to habitat loss and hunting. It is not yet believed to be completely extinct. The Eskimo Curlew was known to breed in the Northwest Territories in Canada and migrate to Central America during the winter. If any population of this bird species remains, it is believed to be extremely small. The last unconfirmed sighting was in 1996.