This section is from the book "The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation", by George Abbey. Also available from Amazon: The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation.
The Curlew (Numenius arquata), belonging to the Grallatores or Waders and family Limicolae, is characterized by the bill being wholly or partially covered with a soft sensitive skin, thus enabling the bird to obtain its food from mud with facility, though unable to discover it by sight. The plumage is generally dull, greyish-brown, rosy white and blackish, in both sexes. In Scotland the curlew is called the " whaup," its length is about 2 ft. The whimbrel (Numenius phoeopus) is very similar in appearance and habits, only rather smaller, being about 17 in. long. Both species are very shy, wary and vigilant of the approach of man. They are monogamous, nesting on tufts or tussocks in marshes or on moors. The eggs are usually four, pyriform, greenish-olive blotched with brown. Both parents incubate, and the young as soon as hatched leave the nest to seek their own food. The food consists of worms, small fishes, insects and mollusca. The curlews are good food. Uniting in large flocks in winter on the muddy shores of the sea and their flight being high, rapid, and protracted, they cannot easily be approached within gun-shot. They utter a loud, whistling note, easily recognized when once heard.