Nature Champions: Curlew

A curlew walking across a grassy wetland

The ‘Curlews’ are a group of large wading birds found across the globe. It is the ‘Eurasian Curlew’ that appears in the UK, and their breeding range stretches from the UK across Northern Europe. They can be highly migratory, and we receive a large influx of birds from Scandinavia. However, our breeding curlews mostly winter around the British coast, or head over to Ireland. The name curlew originates from its distinctive call that sounds much like a ‘ curloo-oo’.

The UK is the third most important country in the world for breeding curlew population.  However, the curlew is in trouble – it is classified as Near Threatened by the IUCN due to worrying declines, and was recently up listed to red on the Birds of Conservation Concern list.

Action Needed

  • Support farmers whose farming practices provide habitats for curlews and other waders.
  • Ensure new forestry is appropriately sited so it doesn’t fragment important open landscapes that support curlews.
  • Restore fragmented open landscapes through the removal of forestry.


  • Intensification of grassland management, increasing densities of predators and farmland abandonment in marginal areas
  • Afforestation of open landscapes
  • The curlew’s wintering habits at the coast are threatened by inappropriate developments, pollution and human disturbance

MSP Nature Champion

Jim Fairlie

Member for: Perthshire South and Kinross-shire

Region: Mid Scotland and Fife

Party: Scottish National Party

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