A Long-billed Curlew Foraging
The Long-billed Curlew’s (Numenius americanus) bill is best adapted for capturing shrimp and crabs living in deep burrows on tidal mudflats or burrowing earthworms in pastures (click on photos for full sized images).
They are entirely carnivorous, feeding on terrestrial insects, marine crustaceans and invertebrates as well as some small vertebrates.
As you can see, they are not adverse to plunging their entire head underwater…
but they also peck prey off the water surface…
and have been seen hawking for insects, although I have never observed this behavior.
As this bird moved from the shallow water to grassland, it began burrow probing behavior.
This foraging method is used to probe for earthworms in drier areas like this grassland…
where they will sometimes twist their heads up to 180 degrees to follow the curve of the burrow.
It was quite interesting to watch this Long-billed Curlew as it foraged for insects and invertebrates out of my visual acuity. I never saw any of its prey items so I obviously didn’t get photos of any of its bounty but it was certainly entertaining to watch it pulling and probing out in the open for all to see.
References: Birds of North America Online