/kerr"looh/, n.
1. any of several shorebirds of the genus Numenius, having a long, slender, downcurved bill, as the common N. arquata, of Europe.
2. any of various similar birds.
[1300-50; ME < AF curleu, c. MF corleu; perh. imit.]

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Any of eight species (genus Numenius) of shorebirds having a sickle-shaped bill that curves downward at the tip, a streaked, gray or brown body, and a long neck and legs.

Curlews breed inland in temperate and subarctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere and migrate far south. They eat insects and seeds during migration but feed on worms and fiddler crabs while wintering on marshes and coastal mudflats. The eastern curlew is the largest species (24 in., or 60 cm, long); the common, or Eurasian, curlew, almost as large, is the largest European shorebird. The Eskimo curlew is now virtually extinct.

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      any of numerous medium-sized or large shorebirds belonging to the genus Numenius (family Scolopacidae) and having a bill that is decurved, or sickle-shaped, curving downward at the tip. There are eight species. Curlews are streaked, gray or brown birds with long necks and fairly long legs. They breed inland in temperate and sub-Arctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere and migrate far south. During migration, they frequent dry uplands, where they feed on insects and seeds; wintering birds occupy marshes and coastal mud flats, where they probe for worms and fiddler crabs.

      The bristle-thighed curlew (N. tahitiensis) breeds in the mountains of Alaska and migrates some 6,000 miles (9,650 km) to winter on islands in the South Pacific.

 The common, or Eurasian, curlew (N. arquata; see photograph—>), almost 60 cm (24 inches) long including the bill, is the largest European shorebird. This species breeds from Britain to Central Asia.

      The Eskimo curlew (N. borealis) is one of the world's rarest birds, a species now virtually extinct. It formerly bred in abundance in Arctic America and wintered on the pampas of South America. The population of Eskimo curlews was severely diminished during the 19th century, when the birds were killed by market gunners.

      The least curlew (N. minimus), of eastern Asia, is only 30 cm (12 inches) long.

      In the long-billed curlew (N. americanus), a western North American counterpart of the Eurasian curlew, the bill alone is about 20 cm (8 inches) long.

      The eastern curlew (N. madagascariensis), the largest bird in the family, 60 cm (24 inches) long, and the slender-billed curlew (N. tenuirostris) are both Old World birds.

      The whimbrel (N. phaeopus), or lesser curlew, is the most widely distributed curlew, occurring both in the Old World and in the New World (as two distinct races). Eurasian whimbrels are white-rumped, but the North American race (formerly called the Hudsonian curlew) is dark-rumped.

      For stone curlew, see thickknee.

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Universalium. 2010.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Curlew — Cur lew (k[^u]r l[=u]), n. [F. courlieu, corlieu, courlis; perh. of imitative origin, but cf. OF. corlieus courier; L. currere to run + levis light.] (Zo[ o]l.) A wading bird of the genus {Numenius}, remarkable for its long, slender, curved bill …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Curlew — ist der Name mehrerer Orte in den Vereinigten Staaten: Curlew (Florida) Curlew (Iowa) Curlew (Kalifornien) Curlew (Kentucky) Curlew (Washington) Curlew Junction (Utah) Diese Seite ist eine Begriffsklärung zur Unterscheidung mehrere …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Curlew — Curlew, IA U.S. city in Iowa Population (2000): 62 Housing Units (2000): 36 Land area (2000): 0.758220 sq. miles (1.963780 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.000000 sq. miles (0.000000 sq. km) Total area (2000): 0.758220 sq. miles (1.963780 sq. km)… …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Curlew, IA — U.S. city in Iowa Population (2000): 62 Housing Units (2000): 36 Land area (2000): 0.758220 sq. miles (1.963780 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.000000 sq. miles (0.000000 sq. km) Total area (2000): 0.758220 sq. miles (1.963780 sq. km) FIPS code:… …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • curlew — [kʉr′lo͞o΄, kʉrl′yo͞o΄] n. pl. curlews or curlew [ME curleu < OFr corlieu, of echoic orig., but infl. by assoc. with corlieu, messenger, courier] any of a genus (Numenius, family Scolopacidae) of large, brownish shorebirds with long legs and a …   English World dictionary

  • curlew — (n.) mid 14c., from O.Fr. courlieu (13c., Mod.Fr. courlis), said to be imitative of the bird s cry but apparently assimilated with corliu runner, messenger, from corre to run (see CURRENT (Cf. current) (adj.)). The bird is a good runner …   Etymology dictionary

  • curlew — ► NOUN (pl. same or curlews) ▪ a large wading bird with a long downcurved bill and brown streaked plumage. ORIGIN Old French courlieu, derived from the sound of the bird s call …   English terms dictionary

  • Curlew — For other uses, see Curlew (disambiguation). For other uses of Numenius , see Numenius. Curlews Long billed Curlew (Numenius americanus) Fishing Pier, Goose Island State Park, Texas …   Wikipedia

  • curlew — UK [ˈkɜː(r)ljuː] / US [ˈkɜrˌlu] noun [countable] Word forms curlew : singular curlew plural curlews a brown bird that lives near water and has long legs and a long thin curved beak …   English dictionary

  • curlew — noun (plural curlews or curlew) Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo French curleu, of imitative origin Date: 14th century any of various largely brownish chiefly migratory birds (especially genus Numenius) …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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