The little curlew (Numenius minutus) is a wader in the large bird family Scolopacidae. It is a very small curlew, which breeds in the far north of Siberia. It is closely related to the North American Eskimo curlew.
The word "curlew" is imitative of the Eurasian curlew's call, but may have been influenced by the Old French corliu, "messenger", from courir , "to run". It was first recorded in 1377 in Langland's Piers Plowman. The genus name Numenius is from Ancient Greek noumenios, a bird mentioned by Hesychius. It is associated with the curlews because it appears to be derived from neos, "new", and mene, "moon", referring to the crescent-shaped bill. The species name is from Latin minutus, "small".
This bird breeds in loose colonies in forest clearings in river valleys. The nest is a ground scrape. It winters inland on grassland, cultivation or near fresh water, mainly in northern Australia but also as far south as St Kilda, South Australia. It is gregarious, forming sizeable flocks. This species feeds by probing soft mud for small invertebrates.
It is mainly greyish brown, including the underwings, with a white belly, and a short, for a curlew, curved bill. It has a head pattern like a whimbrel, with crown and superciliary stripes. The call is a repetitive whistle.
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- BirdLife International (2012). "Numenius minutus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- "Curlew". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
- Jobling, James A (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. pp. 256, 276. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.