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Tracking North America's largest shorebird

From the working lands of the West to the shore

April 2015 Update: Henrietta has returned to the Flat Ranch Preserve! Our favorite curlew has made it back from her winter home, a mudflat along the western coast of Mexico. Now she is back in the tall grasses of Idaho for breeding season. We will be keep you updated as we continue to track her movements with the help of the Intermountain Bird Observatory Curlew Crew. Watch this video of a male curlew preening Henrietta at the Flat Ranch Preserve.


July 2014 Update: We've tagged our first Henry's Fork long-billed curlew! Her name is Henrietta. Track her journey, and those of other curlews at this link.


The Conservancy's Flat Ranch Preserve, where we employ a rotational grazing program, has one of the largest populations of nesting and brooding long-billed curlew in Idaho. Yet we have little data on where the birds from this population go in the winter .. until now. 

Starting in summer 2014, the Conservancy will join the Intermountain Bird Observatory’s ongoing study of curlews. The observatory has been tracking a number of birds from the Pahsimeroi Valley and the Emmett area in the Treasure Valley.

Curlews tracked by the Observatory in 2013 were tagged on grazing lands in southwest Idaho and ended up in the farmlands of Central and Southern California. A curlew tagged on a ranch in the Pahsimeroi Valley spent a few months at the Colorado River Delta in Mexico before ending up in southern California near the Salton Sea. In Montana the Conservancy tracked long-billed curlew with the American Bird Observatory from their journey between Matador Ranch and their wintering grounds.

This summer in Idaho, we'll also survey the Flat Ranch population in the Henry's Fork with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. The information we obtain will be used to inform and educate students and others who want to learn about curlews.


For starters, you may be wondering what a "shore" bird is doing thousands of miles from the coast in states like Idaho. In short, long-billed curlews travel around the West to meet their seasonal needs and ensure survival.

In the winter, curlew inhabit tidal mudflats, marshes, lake shores and seasonally-flooded wetlands, grasslands, and cropland. In the summer, breeding and nesting curlew use short-grass prairies, pastures and meadows. 

Unfortunately populations of curlew have been declining for a number of reasons, including habitat loss.

Sustainable agricultural practices can play an important role in curlew survival. Though they are highly reliant on native rangeland habitats, long-billed Curlews also use multiple habitats on working lands, from pastures and hay meadows to certain cropland types (American Bird Observatory 2013). The Conservancy is working with local ranchers and farmers to conserve, restore and protect grasslands, croplands and wetlands that serve as curlew habitat in Idaho, California and Montana.

Why is the Henry's Fork ideal for curlews? Learn more in this blog by conservation manager Jordan Reeves.


Join us on this fascinating journey - follow our birds on Facebook in Idaho, California and Montana. And consider supporting the project. Your support will get us off the ground!

Learn more about Montana's efforts here:  

Learn more about California's migratory bird program here: 

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