Northern Curlew

Numenius borealis

The northern curlew is a species of curlew, a bird genus in the sandpiper family, that was once numerous in the western Arctic in Canada off the Beaufort Sea. They bred there from February to late summer, before flying to Patagonia. They were often spotted between the two areas as they migrated. Northern curlews were one of the most populous shorebirds in the Americas, but their numbers started dwindling in the late 19th century from overhunting and possibly climate change, and by 1964, the last known specimen was killed in Barbados. The species was deemed extinct in 1970.


Despite being considered extinct, there are occasionally reports of northern curlew sightings every decade or so up until present day in Canada and elsewhere. One of the more well known and trusted sightings of surviving northern curlews was in late may of 1987, when multiple Canadian Wildlife Service personnel claimed to have found a northern curlew nesting in the Northwest Territories. Since their alleged extinction, there have been sightings in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as multiple American states in the Great Plains and the northeast. The most recent credible sighting of a northern curlew known to cryptozoologists and ornithologists was in September 24th, 2006 in Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia by respected birder and former president of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology, Randy Hoffman. He claimed to have seen a healthy looking northern curlew on a shrubby area filled with spruce and green alder surrounded by granite boulders on the ocean shore.

One of the few photos of a living northern curlew, taken on Galveston Island, Texas in 1962

One of the few photos of a living northern curlew, taken on Galveston Island, Texas in 1962

A map of the northern curlew’s breeding grounds and flight paths. Although their range may have been

A map of the northern curlew’s breeding grounds and flight paths. Although their range may have been