June 2, 2017
New Fork, WY
Hermosillo is the capital city of Sonora, Mexico where this male spends most of his winter. Hermoso means “handsome” in Spanish, so we thought this was a great name! Unlike most curlews, he doesn’t have a green leg flag because his leg was too skinny to fit the size flags we had! His 9-digit band number ends in the numbers “61”.
When it comes to defense, the Long-billed curlews lack the more common physical characteristics one may think necessary to defend their territory and nest. They don’t use their long slender bill for defense, because if it breaks, they will no longer be able to eat. Also, they don’t have talons like a raptor (in fact they have feet like a chicken!). But what they lack in physical features, they make up with an incredibly loud, shrill alarm call as they “mob” -or dive bomb- anyone or anything that gets too close to their nest! From egg, to chick, to adult, all curlews are extremely camouflaged, so you may never know that you are too close to a chick or nest. Just take a look at this camouflaged chick in the picture below!
Once the other neighboring curlews hear an alarm, guess what?? They ALL come to help defend that one nest and chase the predator or people away! If you think that a few angry curlews are loud, can you imagine what 20 mobbing curlews sounds like?! SO if you ever find yourself being mobbed by curlews, remember- they won’t physically hurt you! To get the mobbing to stop, there is a simple solution- JUST WALK AWAY! Once you are a few hundred yards away, the angry parents and neighboring curlews will leave you alone and head back to their nests.
We feel that if more people understood this aggressive defense behavior, fewer of these birds would be getting shot. So help us be ambassadors for this declining and protected species by joining us in raising awareness about curlew behavior!
Check out this IBO Curlew Crew video – Long-billed Curlews mobbing of a curlew fiercely defending its chicks here! (Video Credit- Erica Gaeta)