Galapagos Whimbrel Birds

The Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus), is a wader in the large family Scolopacidae. It is the one of the most widespread of the curlews, breeding across much of subarctic North America, Europe and Asia as far south as Scotland.

The Whimbrel is sighted on Espanola Island, Galapagos.

This is a migratory species wintering on coasts in Africa, South America, south Asia into Australasia and southern North America. It is also a coastal bird during migration. The Whimbrel is fairly gregarious outside the breeding season. It breeds on Arctic Tundra. In migration, it can be found in a wide variety of habitats, including mudflats, sandy beaches, rocky coastlines, salt marshes and flooded agricultural fields.


The Whimbrel is a large wader at 18 inches in length and has a wingspan of 32 inches. It is mainly greyish brown, with a white back and rump and a long curved bill (longest in the adult female) with a kink rather than a smooth curve. It is generally wary. The Whimbrels usual call is a rippling whistle, prolonged into a trill for the song.

The Whimbrel feeds by probing soft mud for small invertebrates and by picking small crabs, marine worms and similar prey off the surface. Prior to migration, berries become an important part of their diet.

The only similar common species over most of this birds range are larger curlews. The Whimbrel is smaller, has a shorter, decurved bill and has a central crown stripe and strong supercilia.

There are four subspecies:

Numenius phaeopus phaeopus – northern Europe, northwestern Asia
Numenius phaeopus variegatus – northeastern Asia
Numenius phaeopus alboaxillaris – central Asia (rare, endangered)
Numenius phaeopus hudsonicus (Hudsonian Curlew) – northern North America