Char-Koosta News

The Official Publication of the Flathead Nation online

Help find the long-billed curlew

Spring is here and many bird species are beginning to migrate back into the Mission Valley. Researchers with Montana Audubon, The American Bird Conservancy, and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Wildlife Management Program are very interested in identifying areas where Long-billed Curlews are nesting in the Mission Valley and across the Flathead Indian Reservation. The Curlew is a grassland bird that can be seen probing for food with their long bill, or defending their nest by flying overhead and calling. Grasslands provide critical habitat to many species of birds and other wildlife, and certain grazing management strategies can greatly benefit the Curlew.

The Long-billed Curlew is a medium sized bird about the size and overall color of a hen pheasant, with about a 2 1/4 - 3 foot wingspan. They are best identified by their long, bluish legs and extremely long, thin bill that curves downward. The bill is orange at the base and darker towards the tip. The Curlew has buffy, cinnamon colored plumage with brown streaks in the neck and belly. It makes a loud, whistled “curr-leeeee” sound, which is heard frequently early in the nesting season. Visit http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/long-billed_curlew/id for an example of their unique call!

It is important to remember that the Curlew is a wild species, you are reminded to maintain a respectful distance when viewing wildlife. By getting too close you can unknowingly disturb a nesting site and cause the birds to abandon a location. Help us keep them safe!

Please keep your eyes open and ears tuned! If you see a Curlew, you can report your sighting by logging on to mtaudubon.org/issues/grasslands and fill out a postcard, visit map-me.org/sites/mvcurlews to record your sighting on a map, or call Kari Eneas at 883-2888, ext. 7217.

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