Long-billed Curlews – The Candlestick Birds

/, Birds, Davis County, Long-billed Curlews, Utah/Long-billed Curlews – The Candlestick Birds

Long-billed Curlew in the midst of preeningLong-billed Curlew in the midst of preening – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1600, ISO 400, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

After the clouds moved south yesterday morning Antelope Island State Park was bathed in beautiful light. It felt great to see the sunshine but the cold north wind was miserable at times and chilled my hands right down to the bones. Spring is here but that north wind reminds me that winter still hasn’t quite lost its grip yet. Still, I took advantage of the light.

I saw quite a few Long-billed Curlews yesterday wandering in the spring grasses and this time I was able to get nice images of them. Nicknames for Long-billed Curlews include “sicklebird” and “candlestick bird.”

Long-billed Curlew perched on a rockLong-billed Curlew perched on a rock – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1000, ISO 320, Nikkor 500mm VR, natural light

Candlestick Point in San Francisco was named after these birds and so was Candlestick Park Stadium, the location where the Beatles played their last concert together in 1966.

I saw more female curlews yesterday than males and although I had hoped to photograph the males courting the females or in territorial displays I think the strong north winds put the brakes on that.

Long-billed Curlew in early springLong-billed Curlew in early spring – Nikon D500, f8, 1/800, ISO 320, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

I was delighted to hear the curlews calling though and to be able to watch them rest, preen and walk through the fresh, green grasses.

Long-billed Curlew using its bill to probe for preyLong-billed Curlew using its bill to probe for prey – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1000, ISO 320, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

The long, sickle shaped bills of this species are used to probe into the ground for their prey or to snap up prey they find above the ground. The bills of the females are longer and more curved than the bills of the males.

It is wonderful to have the Long-billed Curlews back in northern Utah once again and to be able to listen to their calls over the grasslands.

Birds and nature, what a great way to start the day. Life is good.



  1. Mia McPherson April 3, 2017 at 6:45 am

    Thank you all for commenting on this Long-billed Curlew post, I am delighted that they are back.

  2. Nancy Colllins March 31, 2017 at 6:24 am

    Lovely images Mia! Image #2 is stunning!

  3. Elephants Child March 29, 2017 at 10:05 pm

    They are yet another improbable (but beautiful) bird.

  4. Utahbooklover March 29, 2017 at 5:19 pm

    Wonderful images in this cool spring (blooming fruit trees are in danger of frost after that warm spell).
    And more rain promises a miserable bumper crop of the most that most despised insect, mosquitoes!

  5. pennypinchadventure Tim Traver March 29, 2017 at 6:55 am

    Gorgeous shots. Lovely sign of the western spring. Still snowbound here, but the rivers and lakes are opening and we’re seeing Hooded and Common Mergansers on our river, and Wood Ducks, Ring Necks are moving through.

  6. Wickersham's Conscience March 29, 2017 at 6:45 am

    It’s quite a pair of lips. Lovely shots, Mia.

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