The Long-billed Curlew is North America’s largest shorebird and stands out in the grasslands of the Great Plains with its long, thin, down-curved bill. They typically arrive to their breeding grounds in Nebraska in March and April. The curlews are most numerous in the Sandhills Ecoregion and in the northwest portion of the Shortgrass Prairie Ecoregion where food, such as grasshoppers are abundant and irrigated farmland is uncommon. The females leave the males to attend to the young several weeks after hatching. By the end of June to July flocks of curlews start to form as they forage together before migrating south to their coastal wintering grounds.
Where to view
- Crescent Lake NWR, Ellsworth, NE
- Walgren Lake SRA, Hay Springs, NE
- Smith Lake WMA, Hay Springs, NE
- Look for curlews while driving down gravel roads in the Sandhills and shortgrass prairies.
Viewing tips & etiquette
Look and listen for the Long-billed Curlews in the Sandhills and shortgrass prairies where you may see them doing aerial courtship or territorial displays. If a curlew starts a territorial display towards you, back away and give the birds space to prevent further stress for the bird.