This month our quiz shows a bird in flight. It has a long, decurved
bill and is mottled brown. The only birds on the Utah checklist that
are possible are Long-billed Curlew and Whimbrel. There are a few
characteristics that we can see in our photo to help with the ID.
First of all, a Long-Billed Curlew bill is much longer than the bill
on this bird. Second, a LB Curlew has a streaked crown that doesn’t
show any real contrast with the rest of the head. A Whimbrel has an
obvious darker crown that contrasts with a lighter supercilium (above
the eye). In the center of the dark crown there is a light stripe down
the middle. It may be difficult to see sometimes, but it is obvious in
our photo quiz. Finally, our bird doesn’t have buffy or cinnamon color
of a LB Curlew, especially under the wings. That pretty well removes
any doubt about our ID and confirms that it is in fact a Whimbrel.
Whimbrels are a rare but regular migrant through the state turning up
at the regular locations that are good for shorebirds. They also can
occasionally be seen in dry fields – just like the ones Curlews like