Meadow birds

Eurasian Curlew

Meadow melancholy

The Eurasian Curlew is one of the largest meadow birds. Distinctive features are its territory-marking soaring flight, its melancholic song and its long, downward-curving beak. Curlews are predominantly diurnal. 

They acquire their food with their pincer-like beak in the vegetation, on the ground and by probing the soil. Their diet ranges from earthworms, insects and small snails to berries and other plant parts. During the breeding season, the pairs defend their territories against intruders. Outside of the breeding season, Curlews are social and form communal roosts in shallow waters.


Scientific nameNumenius arquata
CallTweerr … tweerr … tweerr
FoodSmall invertebrates, sometimes fruits and seeds
In breeding groundsMarch to July
Clutch size3–4
Broods per year1
Population trend in EuropeDeclining


More information

Find out more about the Eurasian Curlew.


The Curlew is a breeding bird of open and wet lowland landscapes. It also inhabits raised bogs and fens. It prefers high groundwater levels, patchy vegetation and moist soils, but can also cope with drier sites. As the Curlew remains faithful to its breeding site, it also regularly breeds on arable land.


Curlews are migratory birds. From March to July they are in their breeding grounds, which include the German state of Lower Saxony and the Dutch province of Fryslân. When their chicks have fledged, both adult and young birds migrate to north-western Europe or Africa to spend the winter. Depending on the weather, Curlews also winter in the Wadden Sea.


For the protection of the Curlew, it is essential to conserve and restore suitable habitats. This includes, in particular, structurally and nutrient-rich wet grasslands with shallow waters and shallow shore areas. 

It is particularly important that grassland areas are managed extensively, i.e. without fertilisers and pesticides, among other things. The restoration of raised bogs also contributes to the conservation of the Curlew.