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

Written by Larry
Larry Jordan was introduced to birding after moving to northern California where he was overwhelmed by the local wildlife, forcing him to buy his first field guide just to be able to identify all the species visiting his yard. Building birdhouses and putting up feeders brought the avian fauna even closer and he was hooked. Larry wanted to share his passion for birds and conservation and hatched The Birder's Report in September of 2007. His recent focus is on bringing the Western Burrowing Owl back to life in California where he also monitors several bluebird trails. He is a BirdLife Species Champion and contributes to several other conservation efforts, being the webmaster for Wintu Audubon Society and the Director of Strategic Initiatives for the Urban Bird Foundation. He is now co-founder of a movement to create a new revenue stream for our National Wildlife Refuges with a Wildlife Conservation Pass.