Distribution, Abundance, and Habitat Associations of the Long-billed Curlew in Southwestern North Dakota (SWG T-6-R)



Gathering information on North American bird populations calls for long-term monitoring programs covering extensive geographic regions to provide basic information on distribution, habitat use and availability, abundance, and changes in abundance. Information regarding population size, distributions and trends is of critical importance to conservation planners, managers, and biologists concerned with widespread degradation of ecosystems, alteration and loss of habitats, and understanding the effective conservation of a species. In accordance with the recommended monitoring of bird populations, especially species of high conservation concern, I undertook a study of the long-billed curlew (Numenius americanus parvus; hereafter LBCU or curlew). The LBCU were once abundant over most of the shortgrass and mixed-grass prairie in the United States and Canada. In the mid- to late 19th century, LBCU numbers drastically declined due to the double combination of over-hunting prior to the Migratory Birds Convention Act, and extensive habitat loss from conversion of native prairie to monocrop agriculture.

The current lack of scientific knowledge regarding LBCU population sizes and distributions make it difficult to evaluate the current status of the population. This study looked at estimating abundance by conducting census route surveys throughout the 2005 and 2006 field seasons. Habitat use was analyzed as identified breeding LBCU locations were complied with land cover data. This will provide wildlife managers information as to what the LBCU prefers for breeding habitat and to where they can help promote the safeguarding of this animal.


Authors and Contributors

Dr. Richard Crawford and Dan Ackerman, University of North Dakota

Research Category

Target Species

Long-billed Curlew

Approximate Completion Date




SWG long-billed curlew distribution habitat
Cover image