Mobile bird identification
Bird Field Guide

The Whimbrel is a large bird with long curved bill, brown mottled body and a white underside. It's head has two faint dark bands across the crown.


  Numenius phaeopus
Waders Menu
In the UK the Whimbrel can usually be seen in small migratory flocks on mudflats. It can be difficult to distinguish from the Curlew, however the Curlew is larger, lacks any head markings and has a different call. Birds seen during the summer over moorland in the UK are usually Curlew unless seen in the North of Scotland where Whimbrel are known to breed.
Order: Charadriiformes

Family: Scolopacidae

Genus:  Numenius

Species: N. phaeopus
Whimbrel feeding on shoreline
The long white 'V' on this birds back can be seen clearly as well as the dark wings and bands on the head.
Thanks to: (Modified)
Note the Dark bands on the birds head indicating that this bird is not a Curlew which is similar but larger.
Adult Whimbrel
Thanks to: (Modified)
Adult Whimbrel flying
Breeding distribution
Probably breeding
Probably breeding
Confirmed to be breeding in this area
Confirmed breeding sites
Breeding distribution of Whimbrel
General distribution:
Breeds in the very North of Europe commonly seen as a passage migrant in the rest of Europe. In the UK small numbers breed in the North of Scotland. Considered a red list species in the UK.
Breeds on moorland and tundra, in winter is usually found around the coastline near estuaries, marshes and flooded pasture.
Whimbrel identification
*Two dark bands along crown
Brown streaked body
*Long curved bill
White underside
Greyish legs
*Key ID points
Whimbrel flying
Thanks to: (Modified)
*Long white 'V' on back in flight
Adult Male and Female