Further evidence of Curlew declines

28th April 2016

Populations of breeding Curlew Numenius arquata (Irish: Crotach) in Ireland have declined significantly in recent decades and now represent one of the country's highest conservation priorities.  This iconic species, with its enigmatic cry and distinctive long, down-curved bill, has been steadily disappearing from the Irish landscape as a result of habitat loss, changes in land use, predation and a range of other factors.


A Curlew in breeding habitat (Photo: John Fox)
A Curlew in breeding habitat (Photo: John Fox)

BirdWatch Ireland is still very keen to receive reports of possible breeding pairs from across the country.  Breeding pairs can easily be distinguished from flocks of migrant Curlews (which come to Ireland for the winter from Britain and Nordic countries); migrants are usually seen in flocks (i.e., 3 or more birds together), at the coast or at large wetlands.  Breeding pairs are usually observed as one or two birds, displaying over breeding territory such as inland bogs or rushy pastures, in between April and June.

Information on the location of breeding pairs is essential for the implementation of management and monitoring programmes.  For example, the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and the Marine (DAFM) has responded to concerns about declines in Curlew populations by including a measure specifically aimed at protecting them in the Green Low Carbon Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS).  Farmers with breeding Curlews should therefore receive priority access to the scheme.

"With fewer than 100 pairs recorded in a partial survey of Curlew in 2015, the race is on to save this species from extinction in Ireland", said  Dr. Anita Donaghy, BirdWatch Ireland’s Senior Conservation Officer.  For further information, or to report a breeding pair, please contact Anita at






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