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Napoleon

a biologists hands hold a curlew with a green leg band on its leg
Napoleon shows off his short bill and poses for his profile picture before being released back to his nesting territory in the Bitterroot Valley

Alpha Flag Code: JE

Capture date: May 9, 2017
Sex: Male
Location: near MPG Ranch Florence, MT

Namesake: Because of his tiny bill and tough attitude, he earned the nickname “Napoleon” from the curlew crew.

Though this male, Napoleon,  had broken the record for shortest curlew bill (just a little over 4 inches), he was quite the tough guy! He was super wiggly and acted fierce by trying to “bite” us, which for a curlew, equates to nothing more than little soft nibbles on your hand that feel more like a tickle!! We didn’t have the heart to tell him that, though :)

Did you know that a curlew’s bill can tell us A LOT of information? For one, we can tell the size of the bird by measuring it,  like when you go for a check-up and the doctor measures your height. The longer the bill, the “bigger” the curlew. The length of bill also gives us a clue if it is a male or a female.

 

We can also gain valuable information from INSIDE a curlew’s bill. By gently swabbing the inside of the bill, we can collect skin cells that reveal important genetic information that can help us determine the health of the population. We discovered through this process that curlews might actually be ticklish!! Want to know why? Check out this video and watch what happens to the end of this curlews bill when we swab their mouth for DNA!

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