Long-billed Curlews appear to be declining in eastern parts of their breeding range such as the Great Plains, while they are slightly increasing in some western areas. A 2012 study estimated a North American population of about 140,000 birds. Long-billed Curlew rates a 14 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score. It is on the 2016 State of North America's Birds Watch List, which lists species most in danger of extinction without significant conservation actions to reverse declines and reduce threats. The species was much more numerous in the nineteenth century, but numbers fell in response to hunting and conversion of their grassland breeding habitat to agriculture and housing. This is thought to be one reason why Long-billed Curlews are now scarce in winter along the Atlantic coast. The major continuing threat to Long-billed Curlews is habitat loss owing both to development and projected effects of climate change. For example, more than 75% of Canadian native grasslands are gone, and wintering habitat in California wetlands has declined by 90%. Pesticide spraying may harm curlews indirectly by reducing the birds' food supplies, particularly grasshoppers. According to NatureServe, breeding populations are of particular concern in Arizona and Kansas.Well, that is not very good news at all. I can't imagine looking at a creature like this and then learning that it is on the list of species in most danger of extinction. I don't even know what to write about this. It's a heartbreak and one that I feel so powerless about.
I was going to post a few more photos of other things we saw at the marsh, but this news made me want to end the post here. Well, I will add, these birds were indeed gone when we passed by on the way out.