Posted by: henrymcghie | April 9, 2016

Eskimo Curlew: A Sad Anniversary and a Warning to Heed

I was talking with a colleague about ‘The Last of the Curlews’, an animation that it turns out we both saw in the mid 1970s when we were about 8-9 years old. The film had a tremendous effect on both of us- it would be interesting to hear from other people with the same experience. I saw comments on YouTube (you used to be able to watch it there), and it turns out there are a group of people, of which I’m one, who must have seen it at the same time and the same age. This was powerful stuff, and the experience has always stayed with me.

Prairie Birder

“At sunset, September 4, 1963, a lone Eskimo curlew, flying at the head of a flock of shore birds, was shot down by a hunter on the coast of Barbados….

“On finding that the victim was not the familiar whimbrel, the hunters gave the large, buff-gray bird with a long, curving bill to Capt. Maurice B. Hutt…who…placed the bird in his deepfreeze.” It was discovered some 17 months later by James Bond (M.W. Bond 1965:314, 316).
(From the US Geological Survey/Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center website)

*  *  *  *

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the last confirmed live sighting of an Eskimo Curlew. The last Eskimo Curlew on record, a single bird, was seen and fatally shot in Barbados on September 4, 1963. The last confirmed live sighting in Canada is even older, in 1932, in Labrador. According to a BSC newsletter from last month, “It…

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