Curlews are easily identified, they are huge, streaky brown waders with a long, obviously down-curved bill. In flight they are mottled brown with a white rump and barred upper-tail. They are bigger than Whimbrels and lack the stripes in the crown
Breeds on areas of damp moorland and pasture. Winters on estuaries and damp grassland, mainly in the north. Extremely widespread around the coasts in winter and on passage A widespread breeding bird in northern Europe, wintering abundantly on most of the estuaries of southern Europe.
There are 33,000-38,000 pairs in Britain, with 12,000 pairs in Ireland but the wintering numbers are more significant. The combined population can exceed 200,000 birds which is more than half of all birds that winter on the European-African flyway.