Understanding what curlew need to survive and thrive beyond World Curlew Day
Updated: Apr 30
The curlew is a magnificent bird. Few species herald the arrival of spring on Scotland’s marginal upland and hill-edge farmland in quite the same way, with its unique bubbling call announcing their presence. No wonder they have a day dedicated to them each year.
But curlew are in dire straits. They have declined across Scotland by 61% (1995 to 2016), twice the rate in England. This is worrying as Scotland holds around 60% of the UK population or approximately a whopping 15% of the world population of this globally declining species. Something needs to be done to help them.
The main driver of decline is loss of quality habitat, related to agricultural intensification, but there is also evidence for increasing predation of nests and chicks. These factors probably interact with higher predation rates in sub-optimal habitats. Urgent action is required to understand how to improve curlew habitats and breeding success and then to apply remedial measures across large areas of the countryside.
The GWCT is hoping to tackle these issues from its demonstration farm on Deeside, Auchnerran, where there is still a reasonable population of breeding curlew.