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a genus of birds of the family Charadriidae of the suborder Charadrii. The bill is long and decurved. The predominant coloration is dark brown and white. The genus comprises seven species. The Numenius are distributed in the northern hemisphere from the tundras to the steppes. They winter in Africa, southern Asia, Australia, and South America. There are five species in the USSR. The common curlew (N. arquatd) is encountered on mossy and steppe marshes from the western borders to the Cisbaikal Region. Further east it is replaced by the Madagascar curlew (N. madagascariensis), which is distinguished from the common curlew by its more powerful bill. The northern forest zone and forest tundra are inhabited by the whimbrel, or lesser curlew (N. phaeopus). In the mountains of northeastern Siberia lives the smallest member of the genus—the pigmy curlew (N. minutus). The slender-billed curlew (N. tenuirostris) used to be encountered in Western Siberia but has apparently become extinct.

The birds nest on the ground, laying a clutch of four speckled eggs. Both the male and female incubate the eggs over a period of 27-29 days. Members of the genus feed on small invertebrates and sometimes on berries and seeds. They are game birds.


Kozlova, E. V. Rzhankoobraznye: Podotriad kuliki. Moscow, 1962. (Fauna SSSR, vol. 2, fasc. 1, part 3.)