This video says about itself:
Slender-billed curlew compared to whimbrel and curlew
25 June 2009
The only known video footage and sound-recording of Slender-billed Curlew! The recordings were made at Merja Zerga, Morocco. The video is by Andy Butler, January 1994. The call was recorded by Adam Gretton, January 1999 with subsequent edits, to remove background noise, by J P Gautier and J P Richard at the laboratoire d’Ethologie de Rennes, as publis[h]ed in Oiseax d’Afrique 1 by Claude Chappuis, and by Magnus Robb.
For comparison, footage and calls of Whimbrel and Eurasian Curlew follow. Does anyone have any footage of the orientalis or sushkini subspecies of Eurasian Curlew or the alboaxillaris subspecies of Whimbrel?
For more information about the race to find the Slender-billed Curlew visit www.slenderbilledcurlew.net.
The Slender-billed Curlew call can also be downloaded from this website and makes the ultimate mobile phone ringtone! The more people who become familiar with this call, the higher the likelihood that they will be alert to hearing such a call in the field. It is the distinctive Slender-billed Curlew call described as Eurasian curlew-like immediately followed by 6-7 very short notes “ti-ti-ti…” becoming progressively higher in pitch and reminiscent of certain larger raptors.
The Eurasian curlew-like part of the call is softer, sweeter, faster and higher in pitch, consisting of four identical cour-lee calls with 0.25 seconds pause in between, second syallable distinctly higher in pitch than first. The tittering part of the call is higher pitched than the distinctive ‘bi, bi, bi, bi, bi, bi, bi’ of the Whimbrel. It was given by a single Slender-billed Curlew flying into a feeding area with a small group of Eurasian Curlews (Gretton 1991). This call was not heard during the previous year and as this individual had been shot and wounded in early December 1989 it is possible that the call is atypical.’
With thanks to Paul Doherty of Bird Images DVD Guides www.birdvideodvd.com for making this possible.
18 Apr 2017
Chasing ghosts: how technology is helping track the bird that mysteriously disappeared
The Slender-billed Curlew hasn’t been seen since 1995, and could very well be extinct. But before we write it off for sure, we need to scour its vast, inhospitable breeding range for straggling populations. A groundbreaking new technique, which studies tiny atoms left in the feathers of long-dead specimens, is telling us where we should look first.
How do you look for a Critically Endangered species’ final few nesting sites, when you were never really sure where they bred in the first place?
That’s the magnitude of the task facing conservationists who are attempting to chase the tail feathers of the world’s final remaining Slender-billed Curlew Numenius tenuirostris population. That is of course, if any such population even still exists at all.
In an attempt to narrow the search for this lost species, a new paper published by BirdLife’s journal, Bird Conservation International, involving staff from, or linked to, the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK), has used data gleaned from tiny atoms, harvested from the feathers of deceased specimens, to pinpoint where in the vast Siberian wilderness we should begin our search.
How do you look for a possibly extinct species, when you didn’t even know where it bred when it was plentiful?
We didn’t always need to resort to such elaborate measures to catch a glimpse of this medium-sized wader. At the beginning of the 19th century, it was a somewhat common bird that wintered all across the Middle East, North Africa and central and eastern Europe.
But even in these bountiful times, the species’ breeding habits were poorly understood. We knew they retreated to remote Central Asia in spring, but not much more beyond that. To date, the only fully-documented Slender-billed Curlew nests are a handful that were discovered in the 1910s and 1920s, near the town of Tara in Omsk, Siberia.
Also poorly understood are the exact reasons for its rapid decline, although we can make a few educated guesses. Widespread hunting across its wintering grounds in the late 19th and early 20th Century had a noticable impact, and the extensive drainage of wetlands across the Mediterranean and North Africa only served to put further pressure on this migratory species. However, the threats the species faces across its breeding grounds, wherever they may be, are largely unknown.
Either way, eventually things got so dire that the Slender-billed Curlew stopped appearing at its wintering grounds altogether. The last fully-verified sighting was in Morocco in February 1995, and although there have since been claimed sightings in places as far apart as France and Ukraine, the species’ visual similarity to more common birds such as Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata and Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus means they are difficult to verify.