Gray-brown mottled above, buff below, the Whimbrel is a large "coastal bird" with long legs. It uses its curved bill to extract insects from shallow pools of fresh water and probe for shellfish in the mudflats. It is distinguished from the curlews by the black and white vertical stripes of its crown.
The Whimbrel breeds on the subarctic tundra, nesting in open habitats of both wet lowlands and dry uplands.
Calls or song.
These wading birds have a full repertoire of calls, one of which is a low, soft whistle heard throughout the springtime. Another is a melodious "koo-teeeu" followed by a bubbling trill.
Population and distribution.
A wary bird and because of the remoteness of its breeding ground, the Whimbrel is numerous, and can be found in the interior of the continent as well as on both coasts. It also helps that its diet is very diversified. The East Coast birds move along the Atlantic Flyway as they proceed as far south as South America during Autumn migration, returning over the middle of the country on the way back to breed. Some winter as far north as California and Virginia.
The Whimbrel makes a nest in a depression on the ground in a patch of moss or clump of sedge. It lays 4 olive green eggs, heavily marked with brown.