The Bristle-thighed curlew (Numenius tahitiensis) is a heavily built wader that measures 44 cm from the tip of its bill to the tip of its tail.
The Bristle-thighed curlew is a heavily built wader that measures 44 cm from the tip of its bill to the tip of its tail.
Distinctive head markings with a dark eye stripe, pale eyebrow and a pale centre stripe over a dark crown; its upper tail coverts are a uniform cinnamon, and its tail, tawny with black bars.
The Bristle-thighed curlew has long spiky flank-upper leg feathers that are visible at close quarters.
The long down-curved bill, has a distinctly fleshy coloured base and a dark brown tip. It sometimes appears to be bulbous tipped and has bluish-grey legs.
This species is a seasonal migrant from Western Alaska in the northern hemisphere to the southern hemisphereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s central and eastern Pacific region; into Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, American Samoa, Niue, Tokelau, Tuvalu and Wallis and Futuna.
Habitat Ecology and Behaviour
The Bristle-thighed curlew is known to forage on tidal flats, fringing reefs, beaches, adjacent grasslands and occasionally in amongst coastal vegetation. Limited observations in the region indicate that it prefers coastal habitats of smaller islands and atolls rather than those of the larger volcanic islands.
It feeds on worms and crustacea taken by thrusting its bill deep into the substrate, and from under stones and litter; but also regularly takes fruit and berries from beach vegetation.
This species like many of FijiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s sea birds is a northern migrant which breeds in one location in western Alaska and spends the northern hemisphere winters mainly in the in the southern hemisphereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s central and eastern Pacific region.
Fiji is at the edge of its normal migratory range and there have only been a few recorded observations, though it is quite possible that it is a regular winter visitor to the small uninhabited islands of the Lau Group and the Ringgolds.
Elsewhere in the Pacific, some individuals have been recorded as over wintering, that is, staying within the region long after the end of winter when they should have returned to the northern hemisphere. It is long-lived (15-23 years) and known to form long-term monogamous pairs which are highly faithful to breeding and wintering sites.
The call of the Bristle-thighed curlew is a mellow, ringing kourlew or aweu-wee.
Disturbance and loss of habitat to coastal development such as coastal reclamation are probably the biggest threat to this species in the region.
Climate change, which could potentially affect the seasons also pose a threat as change in weather patterns may affect the migration seasons of this long distance traveler.
Remarks and Cultural Significance
Front Page Photo: Unknown but NatureFiji-MareqetiViti gratefully acknowledges the photographer for its use here.