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Help ID Bird, upstate New York (1 Viewer)

jillycakes

New member
Hello, forum! A few weeks ago I stumbled across a small group of well camouflaged birds on the ground at a wood pile that rustled up when I walked by.

They looked like woodcocks, maybe 10 inches long with brown dappled bodies and cute heads and chicken-like feet - except their beaks were incredibly long and curved, like a far eastern curlew.

Do woodcocks come with beaks like this, or did I maybe see a different kind of bird??
 

KC Foggin

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i don't have a clue Jilly but hopefully someone will be by with some suggestions.

Meanwhile a warm welcome to you from those of us on staff here at BirdForum :t:
 

KC Foggin

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You're welcome Jilly.

Well, if you are in that area again, try to get a photo of them as that will help immensely. ;)
 

nartreb

Speak softly and carry a long lens
Curlew is not likely in New York, but Whimbrel is certainly possible.

(So is at least one species of ibis, but the plumage is pretty different.)

Edit 1: Also should give some consideration to rails (e.g. Clapper), but neither the habitat nor the bill shape sounds like a great match.

Edit 2: but the woodpile thing still bothers me. A group of whimbrels under a woodpile doesn't seem right - they're low-tide mudflat birds and tundra nesters. Sometimes when a description doesn't match the environment, it's because the bird is an escaped cage bird or introduced game bird... but I can't think of anything likely for this case.
 
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nartreb

Speak softly and carry a long lens
Ducklings don't have long beaks, have webbed feet, and don't have a pattern much like woodcocks, so that's not it.

But the idea of a cluster hiding under/near cover being a single brood does have a lot of appeal. I don't know the likely flock size for whimbrel on migration, but I'd guess they would be few and somewhat scattered, so if you approached you might notice one or two at a time, not a group popping up all at once.

Whereas there are lots of locally-breeding birds that hide their young on the ground and keep them in close groups. If not for the description of the beak I would be thinking about local/introduced grouse/pheasant/turkey
 

Deb Burhinus

Used to be well known! 😎
Europe
Curlew is not likely in New York, but Whimbrel is certainly possible.

I would have thought Curlew was possible in NY - I had family there (in Rome) and even though it was many years ago, I remember it being an amazing birding location with habitats including forests, grasslands, mountains, lakes, rivers, wetlands, pine barrens, dunes, and beaches.

I’m not saying it is a curlew species but I think there’s many more options you could consider than the ones so far - Ulster County is quite forestry so if the OP saw them locally, I’d still be considering a snipe or woodcock species even though perhaps the bill description is off
 
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nartreb

Speak softly and carry a long lens
I checked e-bird, there are a handful of curlew records in the Northeast, all either coastal or great-lake-coastal (with one exception in Connecticut). But it's always a single bird, seen for a day or three at most, then gone. You won't see a curlew again in the same location for five or ten years.

So a curlew is possible but quite unlikely. Multiple curlews clustered by a woodpile, I don't think we should take seriously.

Whimbrel is much more common, enough so that there are a decent number of inland sightings over the years. The inland sightings, though, are usually of one or two birds. I found a couple records of larger groups, but these were seen on the shores of decent-sized lakes. So Whimbrel is possible, but not especially likely either.

Everything about this sighting sounds like snipe or woodcock, except for the curvature of the beak. I hate to say it without giving the original poster a chance to react to all the replies so far, but I'm starting to think he/she made a mistake about the beak.
 
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