Little Curlew – Accepted

1. 16 Sep–14 Oct 1984


Santa Maria Valley SBA



ph., Lehman & Dunn (1985), AB 39:102

2. 23–24 Sep 1988


Santa Maria Valley SBA




3. 04–20 Aug 1993


Santa Maria R. mouth SBA/SLO



Fig. 126, ph., AB 48:159,






Erickson & Terrill (1996)

4. 06–28 Sep 1994


Carmel R. mouth MTY



Figs. 216, 217, ph., AB 49:97, Roberson (2002:195, 280), Paulson (2005:153, 154)


Little Curlew – Not accepted, identification not established

15 Dec 1973


San Diego Bay SD











Figure 126. The Little Curlew is globally rare, making California’s four records particularly remarkable (the actual number of individuals involved is uncertain). This adult was present 4–20 August 1993 at the mouth of the Santa Maria River, Santa Barbara County. The date of the photograph is unknown (1993-125; Mitch Heindel).



Figures 216, 217 (above, below). Two views of the adult Little Curlew present from 6 to 28 September 1994 at the Carmel River mouth in Monterey County (1994-137). The upper photo was taken on 9 September (John Sorensen), and the lower was taken on an unspecified date (Herbert Clarke). Little Curlews are long-lived and exceedingly rare in North America, giving good reason to wonder whether this individual might have accounted for any or all of three previous fall records of this species, dating back to 1984, from locations along the Santa Maria River in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties.









Little Curlew

LITTLE CURLEW Numenius minutus Gould, 1841

Accepted: 4 (80%)

Treated in Appendix H: no

Not accepted: 1

CBRC review: all records

Not submitted/reviewed: 0

Large color images: see Figures

This small curlew breeds in central Siberia and migrates overland to eastern China, passing from there over water to northern Australia and probably southern New Guinea; stragglers have been recorded in Tasmania and New Zealand (Cramp 1983). In the Old World, vagrants have been recorded in Norway, Great Britain, and the Seychelles Islands (Cramp 1983, Lewington et al. 1991). Apart from California’s records, the species has been recorded only twice in the Western Hemisphere: St. Lawrence Island, Alaska, 7–8 June 1989 (Gibson and Kessel 1992, UAM 5617), and Leadbetter Pt., Washington, 6 May 2001 (sight record, Mlodinow 2002).

California’s first Little Curlew, a first-fall bird enjoyed by hundreds of observers, was present from 16 September to 14 October 1984 in the Santa Maria River valley, Santa Barbara County (Lehman and Dunn 1985, Schram 1985; Figure 126). Four falls later, an unaged bird appeared a few miles to the west, and in fall 1993 an adult was still farther west, at the mouth of the Santa Maria River and on the adjacent beach up to two miles south of there, as well as a short distance north in San Luis Obispo County. Finally, during three weeks in September 1994, an adult frequented Carmel River State Beach in Monterey County (Figures 216, 217). Considering this species’ extreme rarity in North America, it is quite possible that the same bird furnished all four records. If so, the bird was over ten years old when it appeared in Monterey County, and it may have wintered annually in South America (Roberson 1995, 2002). Longevity of the Little Curlew is unknown, but a Eurasian Curlew (N. arquata) lived for at least 31 years (Terres 1980).