COSEWIC Status Appraisal Summary on the Long-billed Curlew Numenius americanus in Canada
COSEWIC status appraisal summaries are working documents used in assigning the status of wildlife species suspected of being at risk in Canada. This document may be cited as follows:
COSEWIC. 2010. COSEWIC status appraisal summary on the Long-billed Curlew Numenius americanus in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Ottawa. iv pp.
(Species at Risk Status Reports)
For additional copies contact:
c/o Canadian Wildlife Service
Également disponible en français sous le titre Sommaire du statut de l’espèce du COSEPAC sur le courtis à long bec (Numenius americanus) au Canada.
© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, 2011.
Catalogue No.: CW69-14/2-9-2011E-PDF
Status Appraisal Summary
Range of occurrence in Canada (province/territory/ocean): British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan
Current COSEWIC Assessment: Special Concern
SSC Recommendation: Update to the status report NOT required (wildlife species’ status category remains unchanged)
Evidence (indicate as applicable):
* Use the IUCN definition of "location"
|Region||2002 Status Report1||Other Estimates||Blancher & Gratto-Trevor2|
|Jones et al. 2008|
|British Columbia||500||400-500 (J. Surgenor pers. comm. 2010)|
|Alberta||19,000||23,884 (Saunders 2001)||38,000|
|Saskatchewan||4,000||3,000 (Smith 1996)||5,000|
Table summarizing previous and current population estimates for the Long-billed Curlew Numenius americanus.
1 Minimum population estimates
2 Based on North American Breeding Bird Surveys
|2002 Status Report||Prairie Ecosystem of Canada||British Columbia||Alberta||Saskatchewan|
|Loss of Native Prairie||Yes||30% of mixed grass prairie remains (Davis 2010)||43% of native prairie remains (Nerberg and Ingstrup 2005)||<20% of native prairie remains (Nerberg and Ingstrup 2005)|
|Nesting in Cropland||Likely, but nothing known or reported||Unknown; Numbers may be stable or increasing in agricultural areas in the Okanagan Valley (D. Cannings pers. comm. 2010).||Yes - 8 nests in 2007 (Devries et al. 2010)|
Yes - 1 nest in 2008 (M.Giovanni pers. comm. 2010)
|Yes- 2 nests (Foster-Willfong 2003; G. Maty pers. comm. 2010)|
|Protected Habitat||< 5% of total habitat in Canada||30% of prairie is private (Gauthier et al. 2003)||8% (Grasslands Conservation Council of BC 2004)||11% of habitat part of Representative Areas Network; oil and gas developments are restricted in these areas (J. Pepper pers. comm. 2010)|
Table summarizing previous and current information on habitat availability for Long-billed Curlews.
|2002 Status Report||Fellows and Jones 2009 and references therein||British Columbia||Alberta||Saskatchewan|
|Habitat Loss and Degradation1 (also see Table 2, above)||Yes||Development and forest ingrowth (P. Ohanjanian pers. comm. 2010)||Cultivation of marginal native habitat (COSEWIC in press)||Conversion of prairie to cropland (J. Pepper pers. comm. 2010)|
Cultivation of marginal native habitat (COSEWIC in press)
|Predation||Yes||No new information (D. Prescott pers. comm. 2010)||Coyotes may be in decline (T. Herriot pers. comm. 2010)|
|Climate Change||Yes (sea level change on wintering grounds)||Sea level rise- loss of intertidal habitat (Colwell and Mathis 2001)|
|Increased drought (Barrow and Yu 2005)||Increased drought (Barrow and Yu 2005)||Increased drought (Barrow and Yu 2005)|
|Energy Development||No||Rapid transmission line and pipeline development (World Wildlife Fund 2001)||Increased energy development in grasslands (COSEWIC in press)||Increased energy development in grasslands (COSEWIC in press)|
|Off-road Vehicle (ORV) Use||No||Sensitivity to ORVs in nesting habitat||May pose risk in localized areas (Ohanjanian 2004)||May pose risk in localized areas (J. Pepper pers. comm. 2010)|
|Contaminants||No||Reduced egg hatchability- contaminants on wintering grounds (Oring 2006)|
Table summarizing previous and current threats for Long-billed Curlews.
1 Includes: grassland conversion, spread of invasive species, ploughing, grazing, and livestock trampling
Dick Cannings, Consulting Biologist, Naramata, BC
Peter Blancher, Research Scientist, S&T, Environment Canada, Ottawa
Brenda Dale, Wildlife Biologist, Canadian Wildlife Service, Edmonton
Steve Davis, Wildlife Biologist, CWS; Adjunct Professor, University of Regina/Saskatchewan
Ken DeSmet, Species at Risk Specialist, Wildlife & Ecosystem Protection, Manitoba Conservation, Winnipeg, MB
Brandy Downey, Senior Species at Risk Biologist, Alberta Sustainable Resource Development, Lethbridge, AB
Pat Fargey, Species at Risk/Ecosystem Management Specialist, Grasslands National Park, Val Marie, SK
Suzanne Fellows, Assistant Nongame Migratory Bird Coordinator, USFWS, Denver
Janna Foster-Willfong, Senior Ecologist, Environmental Systems Assessment Canada Ltd., Regina
Trevor Herriot, Prairie Naturalist, Regina
Jeff Keith, Biologist, Saskatchewan Conservation Data Centre, Ministry of Environment, Regina
Guy Morrison, Research Scientist, S&T, Environment Canada, Ottawa
Penny Ohanjanian, Consulting Biologist, Kimberly, BC
Jeanette Pepper, Species at Risk Ecologist, Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment, Regina
Dave Prescott, Endangered Species Specialist, Alberta Fish and Wildlife Division, AB Environment, Red Deer, AB
John Surgenor, Wildlife Biologist, Ministry of Environment, Kamloops, BC
Alan Smith, Consulting Biologist, Saskatchewan
Julie Steciw, Wildlife Biologist, Ministry of Environment, Williams Lake, BC
Sources of Information
Ackerman, D. S. 2007. Distribution, abundance, and habitat associations of the Long-billed curlew in southwestern North Dakota. Thesis, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, USA.
Barrow, E.M., and G. Yu. 2005. Climate scenarios for Alberta. A report prepared for the Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative (PARC) in cooperation with Alberta Environment. (Online.) URL: http://www.parc.ca/pdf/Alberta_Scenarios/main_report.pdf
B.C. Conservation Data Centre. 2010. http://a100.gov.bc.ca/pub/eswp/speciesSummary.do?id=14338 (accessed 18 August 2010).
Colwell, M.A. and R.L. Mathis. 2001. Seasonal variation in territory occupancy of non-breeding Curlews in intertidal habitats. Waterbirds 24:208-216.
COSEWIC. 2002. COSEWIC assessment and status report on the Long-billed Curlew Numenius americanus in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Ottawa. vii + 31 pp.
COSEWIC. In press. COSEWIC assessment and status report on Sprague's Pipit >Anthus spragueii in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Ottawa.
Davis, Stephen. 2010. “Status and Trends of the Prairies in Canada.” Presentation Abstract. Society for Conservation Biology. 2010 Annual Meeting. Edmonton. 6 July 2010. http://birenheide.com/scb/schedule/singlesession.php?sessno=SY73&order=1271#1271 (accessed 01 September 2010).
Devries, J.H., S.O. Rimer, and E.M. Walsh. 2010. Cropland nesting by Long-billed Curlews in Southern Alberta. Prairie Naturalist. 42.
Drever, M.C., T.D. Nudds, and R.G. Clark. 2007. Agricultural policy and nest success of prairie ducks in Canada and the United States. Avian Conservation and Ecology - Écologie et conservation des oiseaux 2(2): 5. http://www.ace-eco.org/vol2/iss2/art5/ (accessed 08 September 2010).
Dugger, B.D., and K.M. Dugger. 2002. Long-billed curlew (Numenius americanus). The birds of North America. Number 628.
Environment Canada, 2010. North American Breeding Bird Survey - Canadian Results and Analysis Website version 3.00. Environment Canada, Gatineau, Quebec, K1A 0H3
Fellows, S.D., and S.L. Jones. 2009. Status assessment and conservation action plan for the Long-billed Curlew (Numenius americanus). US Dept. of Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Biological Technical Publication, FWS/BTP-R6012-2009, Washington, DC. http://library.fws.gov/BTP/long-billedcurlew.pdf
Foster-Willfong, J.M. 2003. Census methodology and habitat use of Long-billed curlews (Numenius americanus) in Saskatchewan. Thesis, University of Regina, Canada.
Foster-Willfong, J. 2004. Report on Long-billed Curlews in Southwestern Saskatchewan, 2003. Unpublished report for Saskatchewan Environment.
Gauthier, D.A., A. Lafon, T. Toombs, J. Hoth, and E. Wiken. 2003. Grasslands: Toward a North American Conservation Strategy. Canadian Plains Research Center, University of Regina, Regina, Saskatchewan, and Commission for Environmental Cooperation, Montreal, Quebec.
Government of Saskatchewan. 2010. Pilot Program Reduces Coyote Numbers. News Release: May 26, 2010. http://www.gov.sk.ca/news?newsId=91315bf4-90dc-4620-ad3e-f912a72d6a5d (accessed 01 September 2010).
Grasslands Conservation Council (GCC). 2002. B.C. grasslands mapping project: Year 3 mid-term statistical report. Grasslands Conservation Council of B.C., Kamloops, B.C. 38pp.
Grasslands Conservation Council of BC. 2004. The Grasslands of BC.
Hammermeister, A., D. Gauthier, and K. McGovern. 2001. Saskatchewan's native prairie: statistics of a vanishing ecosystem and dwindling resource. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan: Native Plant Society of Saskatchewan Inc.
Hartman, C.A. and L.W. Oring. 2009. Reproductive success of Long-Billed Curlews (Numenius americanus) in Northeastern Nevada hay fields. The Auk 126:420-430.
Jones, S.L., C.S. Nations, S.D. Fellows, and L.L. McDonald. 2008. Breeding abundance and distribution of Long-billed Curlews (Numenius americanus) in North America. Waterbirds 31:1-14.
Morrison, R.I.G., B.J. McCaffery, R.E. Gill, S.K. Skagen, S.L. Jones, G.W. Page, C.L. Gratto-Trevor, and B. A. Andres. 2006. Population estimates of North American shorebirds, 2006. Wader Study Group Bulletin 111:67-85.
Nernberg, D., and D. Ingstrup. 2005. Prairie Conservation in Canada: The Prairie Conservation Action Plan Experience. USDA Forest Service Gen. Tech. Rep PSW-GTR-191.
Ohanjanian, I.A. 2004. Long-billed Curlew: Accounts and Measures for Managing Identified Wildlife-Accounts V. 2004. B.C. Ministry of the Environment.
Oring, L.W. 2006. Long-billed curlew symposium. Wader Study Group Bulletin 109:30.
Phillips, M.L., W.R. Clark, M.A. Sovada, D.J. Horn, R.R. Koford, and R.J. Greenwood. 2003. Predator selection of prairie landscape features and its relation to duck nest success. Journal of Wildlife Management 67:104–114.
Prugh , L.R., C.J. Stoner, C.W. Epps, W.T. Bean, W.J. Ripple, A.S. Laliberte, J.S. Brashares. 2009. The rise of the mesopredator. Bioscience 59: 779-791.
Sargeant, A.B., R.J. Greenwood, M.A. Sovada, and T.L. Shaffer. 1993. Distribution and abundance of predators that affect duck production-Prairie Pothole Region. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Resource Publication No. 194. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington, D.C., USA.
Saunders, E.J. 2001. Population estimate and habitat associations of the Long-billed Curlew (Numenius americanus) in Alberta. Alberta Species at Risk Report No. 25. Edmonton, Alberta.
http://www.srd.alberta.ca/FishWildlife/SpeciesAtRisk/documents/SAR25-LongBilledCurlew.pdf (accessed 30 August 2010).
Sauer, J.R., J.E. Hines, and J. Fallon. 2008. The North American Breeding Bird Survey, Results and Analysis 1966 - 2007. Version 5.15.2008. USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, MD.
Smith, A.R. 1996. Atlas of Saskatchewan birds. Saskatchewan Natural History Society, Special Publication No. 22, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Stanley, T.R. and S.K. Skagen. 2005. Final report: Long-Billed Curlew (Numenius americanus) population estimate and monitoring guidelines. USGS Fort Collins Science Center, Fort Collins, CO. Unpublished report to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Stanley, T.R., and S.K. Skagen. 2007. Estimating the breeding population of Long-billed Curlew in the U.S. Journal of Wildlife Management 71:2556-2564.
Authors of Status Appraisal Summary
Deborah E. Perkins, First Light Consulting & Contract Services, New Gloucester, Maine, USA and Cheri L. Gratto-Trevor, S&T, Env Canada, Saskatoon, SK, Canada.
Range of occurrence in Canada: BC, AB, SK
|Generation time (usually average age of parents in the population; indicate if another method of estimating generation time indicated in the IUCN guidelines (2008) is being used)||6 to 8 years|
|Is there an [observed, inferred, or projected] continuing decline in number of mature individuals?||Likely|
|Estimated percent of continuing decline in total number of mature individuals within [5 years or 2 generations]||Unknown|
|[Observed, estimated, inferred, or suspected] percent [reduction or increase] in total number of mature individuals over the last [10 years, or 3 generations].||Unknown|
|[Projected or suspected] percent [reduction or increase] in total number of mature individuals over the next [10 years, or 3 generations].||Unknown|
|[Observed, estimated, inferred, or suspected] percent [reduction or increase] in total number of mature individuals over any [10 years, or 3 generations] period, over a time period including both the past and the future.||Unknown|
|Are the causes of the decline clearly reversible and understood and ceased?||No|
|Are there extreme fluctuations in number of mature individuals?||No|
Extent and Occupancy Information
|Estimated extent of occurrence||530,000 km2|
(from original 2002 status report)
|Index of area of occupancy (IAO)|
(Always report 2x2 grid value; other values may also be listed if they are clearly indicated (e.g., 1x1 grid, biological AO)).
|> 2,000 km2|
|Is the total population severely fragmented?||No|
|Number of locations*||Unknown|
|Is there an [observed, inferred, or projected] continuing decline in extent of occurrence?||No|
|Is there an [observed, inferred, or projected] continuing decline in index of area of occupancy?||Unknown|
|Is there an [observed, inferred, or projected] continuing decline in number of populations?||No|
|Is there an [observed, inferred, or projected] continuing decline in number of locations?||Unknown|
|Is there an [observed, inferred, or projected] continuing decline in [area, extent and/or quality] of habitat?||Likely, with ongoing agricultural activities, urban, encroachment, oil and gas development|
|Are there extreme fluctuations in number of populations?||No|
|Are there extreme fluctuations in number of locations*?||No|
|Are there extreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence?||No|
|Are there extreme fluctuations in index of area of occupancy?||No|
* See definition of location.
Number of Mature Individuals (in each population)
|Population||N Mature Individuals|
|Total||25,000 – 50,000|
Threats (actual or imminent, to populations or habitats)
Rescue Effect (immigration from outside Canada)
|Status of outside population(s)?||Anecdotal evidence suggests declines|
|Is immigration known or possible?||Not documented, but possible|
|Would immigrants be adapted to survive in Canada?||Yes|
|Is there sufficient habitat for immigrants in Canada?||Yes|
|Is rescue from outside populations likely?||Possible|
Status and Reasons for Designation
|Reasons for designation:|
In Canada, this large shorebird breeds in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan. Limited survey evidence suggests that the population has not changed significantly over the last 10 years, but there is anecdotal evidence suggesting regional declines. Historically, the extent and quality of its habitat has been significantly reduced by the conversion of native grasslands to agricultural crops and urban development. Ongoing threats include i) habitat loss and degradation from urban encroachment, cultivation of marginal native habitat and oil and gas development, ii) increased frequency of droughts associated with climate change, and iii) increase in predators associated with habitat fragmentation.
Applicability of Criteria
The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) was created in 1977 as a result of a recommendation at the Federal–Provincial Wildlife Conference held in 1976. It arose from the need for a single, official, scientifically sound, national listing of wildlife species at risk. In 1978, COSEWIC designated its first species and produced its first list of Canadian species at risk. Species designated at meetings of the full committee are added to the list. On June 5, 2003, the Species at Risk Act (SARA) was proclaimed. SARA establishes COSEWIC as an advisory body ensuring that species will continue to be assessed under a rigorous and independent scientific process.
The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) assesses the national status of wild species, subspecies, varieties, or other designatable units that are considered to be at risk in Canada. Designations are made on native species for the following taxonomic groups: mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fishes, arthropods, molluscs, vascular plants, mosses, and lichens.
COSEWIC comprises members from each provincial and territorial government wildlife agency, four federal entities (Canadian Wildlife Service, Parks Canada Agency, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and the Federal Biodiversity Information Partnership, chaired by the Canadian Museum of Nature), three non–government science members and the co–chairs of the species specialist subcommittees and the Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge subcommittee. The Committee meets to consider status reports on candidate species.
- Wildlife Species
- A species, subspecies, variety, or geographically or genetically distinct population of animal, plant or other organism, other than a bacterium or virus, that is wild by nature and is either native to Canada or has extended its range into Canada without human intervention and has been present in Canada for at least 50 years.
- Extinct (X)
- A wildlife species that no longer exists.
- Extirpated (XT)
- A wildlife species no longer existing in the wild in Canada, but occurring elsewhere.
- Endangered (E)
- A wildlife species facing imminent extirpation or extinction.
- Threatened (T)
- A wildlife species likely to become endangered if limiting factors are not reversed.
- Special Concern (SC)*
- A wildlife species that may become a threatened or an endangered species because of a combination of biological characteristics and identified threats.
- Not at Risk (NAR)**
- A wildlife species that has been evaluated and found to be not at risk of extinction given the current circumstances.
- Data Deficient (DD)***
- A category that applies when the available information is insufficient (a) to resolve a species’ eligibility for assessment or (b) to permit an assessment of the species’ risk of extinction.
- Date Modified: