Eastern curlew facts

Common name: Eastern curlew
Scientific name: Numenius madagascariensis
Population: Declining
Endangered status: Critically Endangered

Eastern curlew
Photo: Wang LiQiang/Shutterstock

Why is the Eastern curlew endangered?

  • The Eastern curlew is listed as critically endangered in Australia, with global populations estimated to have declined by 80% in the last 30 years. 
  • As a wading bird that travels across our earth, they rely on intertidal mudflats for food and habitat.
  • But along their migration route, these mudflats are being developed or eroded, placing these beautiful birds at risk.

Where does the Eastern curlew live?

  • The Eastern curlew begins its life in Russia and north-eastern China before traveling more than 10,000km to enjoy the summer’s sun on southern feeding grounds like Queensland’s Toondah Harbour.
  • The mudflats in the Yellow Sea (bordering China, Russia and the Korean Peninsula) are one important stopover during their migration south. 
  • In Australia, wetlands also provide critical habitat for 75% of the world’s Eastern curlews. 
  • The Ramsar-listed wetlands of Toondah Harbour in Moreton Bay is one of their last strongholds along the east coast.

What threatens the Eastern curlew?

What does the Eastern curlew look like?

  • Eastern curlews — named for their call of ‘cuuuurlew’ — are the largest shorebirds on our planet, growing up to 60cm tall.
  • Their plumage is flecked brown and tan and they have iconic curved black beaks for digging crabs, shrimp and prawns, molluscs and insects out of shallow waters and mudflats.

Eastern curlew Australia
Photo: Jukka Jantunen/Shutterstock

The Eastern curlew is missing in the wild

We can’t imagine an Australia without the Eastern curlew.

But curlews are missing in the wild. Because our leaders are missing in action.

That’s why we’re pushing for stronger laws to better protect them and all of Australia’s incredible wildlife.

We demand strong environment laws that will save our iconic wildlife.

We need laws that actually protect nature, including strong outcome-focused environmental standards and an independent regulator to oversee decision-making.

Speak up for the Eastern curlew

Add your voice to the petition to the federal government, asking our elected representatives to create a new generation of national laws to protect nature.


Header: Kristian Bell/Shutterstock