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Bristle-thighed Curlews (Numenius tahitiensis) will be studied on the breeding grounds in the Andreafsky Wilderness of the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge in 2010-2012. The Bristle-thighed Curlew is a rare and unusual shorebird that breeds only in western Alaskan and spends the non-breeding season on islands and atolls in the Central and South Pacific. The global population was estimated to be 10,000 birds in 1999.
Due to its small population size, limited breeding range, and potential threats on the non-breeding grounds, the Bristle-thighed Curlew is considered a species of great conservation concern. Despite broad agreement about the conservation status of this species, appropriate conservation actions have not been identified due to the lack of reliable data on population size and trend. It is a difficult species to study because of its remote breeding grounds, low breeding density, cryptic nesting behavior, and widely dispersed wintering areas.
The Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge has a unique responsibility for the Bristle-thighed Curlew. Approximately 60% of the breeding population nests within the borders of the Refuge, and virtually the entire global breeding population and young of the year stage on the Refuge during late summer. A project was launched in May 2010 to investigate the current status of the breeding population of the Bristle-thighed Curlew on the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge. Objectives of the study are to document breeding success and adult survival, estimate population size and trend, and evaluate various habitat characteristics of its breeding and staging grounds
Curlews will be individually marked with leg flags as part of the effort to estimate population size and track survival rates of adults. The leg flag is bright green and has a two-digit code in white. In 2010, we marked 32 adult curlews with green leg flags. We plan to mark additional curlews in 2011.
Birds that breed on the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge are known to winter in the Hawaiian Islands (Hawaii, Oahu, Kauai), Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (Midway Atoll, Laysan and Lisianksi Islands), and Marshall Islands. If you live or are vacationing in Hawaii or one of the other islands in the central and south Pacific, keep your eyes open for our flagged curlews. Please report any observations of these birds to:
Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge
P.O. Box 346
Bethel, AK 99559 USA