Long-billed Curlews don’t hatch with long bills, in fact the bills of the chicks look rather stubby for the first few months of their lives. Two days ago I spotted two Long-billed Curlews chicks and two adults not far from the auto tour route at Bear River National Wildlife Refuge and was able to get images of the chicks out in the open. The chicks were still downy with long legs, short bills and the wings were barely noticeable.
I thought a post on the growth of bills in Long-billed Curlews might interest some of my readers.
The bills are probably short for two reasons, the first being long bills wouldn’t fit well within the eggs and secondly the chicks need a strong bill to scrape against the egg shell to pip and a shorter bill would be stronger than a longer one would be.
I do know that the Long-billed Curlew chicks are little cuties!
This image taken in July of 2011 shows an older Long-billed Curlew chick on Antelope Island State Park. This curlew has lost the down except for the top of its head and the back of its neck and is in juvenal plumage. The bill is longer than the bill in the first image but still quite short compared to an adult curlew.
This image shows the length of the bill for an adult male Long-billed Curlew I photographed last June on Antelope Island. Adult female Long-billed Curlews have even longer more curved bills than the males.
Isn’t nature fascinating?
Life is good.