Whimbrel - Hebridean Birds Sightings & Photos

Western Isles Birds - Whimbrel - These birds seen in the Western Isles are usually "passage" birds - birds who breed in Greenland and Siberia.

There are a few that do breed in the UK - but these are down south or in Shetland and Orkney.

These birds are a relative of the curlew - these neat attractive waders have a less decurved bill than the curlew - who are considerably larger than the whimbrels

 Whimbrel -  Western Isles Bird Sightings
Bird Overview - Whimbrel
Sandpipers & Allies
Latin name
Numenius phaeopus


Similar Species
Bar Tailed Godwit

Longish legged wading bird, similar looking to a curlew - but slightly smaller and less lanky. These birds are rather more "squat" than the curlews, This birds has two dark stripes along the top of their head.

The long bill which is slightly less downward curved than the curlews is not usually used to probe the mud for food - instead the Whimbrel picks food of the surface just beneath the sand or mud. When they eat crabs they break each leg off in turn before eating the body of the crab. They have a clear white rump in flight.

40 - 46 cm (16 - 18ins)
These birds seen in the Western Isles, Scotland - breed on damp moorland and lakesides. IN the winters they will be on muddy estuaries and rocky shores. These birds will often perch on fence posts and telegraph poles.

Whimbrels eat insects, snails and slugs; on passage, crabs, shrimps, molluscs, worms.

Before migrating the whimbrels eat more berries, they also eats blue butterflies. Whimbrels often feed on their own or in small, spread out parties

The whimbrel has a loud, rich rippling trill. One of the whimbrels calls is known as the seven whistle call because it is made up of seven single whistles


These birds nests are simple shallow scrapes in the ground - usually in low grass or heather - there will be 4 eggs and just one brood between May and July. The male's courts the female with a high circling song flight - a prolonged bubbling

The male and the female whimbrel incubate (22-28 days) and raise the young. When the chicks are dry, they leave the nest and stay hidden among the surrounding vegetation. Both parents look after their chicks until they fledge - usually 35-40 days

Misc. Info
The eggs and chicks have a colouring which is speckled and is easily hidden in their shallow nest among the grass making them very hard to spot


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