Photo: Curlew by Mike Brown

You can donate to the Curlew Appeal by calling us directly on 01-2819878 or by emailing us at

Click here to hear the evocative breeding calls of the Curlew, once a common sound in the Irish countryside but now rarely heard (MP3: 771KB)

Recording courtesy of Patrik Åberg (made on 25th May 2009 in Sweden)


If you are fortunate enough to find a breeding pair of Curlews, please email Anita Donaghy with details of the date, time and location.  If you prefer, you can call 07491-29905 to report your sightings instead.


For more information on Curlew declines in Ireland, click here


The Cry of the Curlew

Curlew on nest with chick (Derek Belsey & Cliff Reddick)
We need your help now!

The haunting cry of the Curlew is one of the most evocative and memorable sounds of the marshes and uplands in summer. However, we need to act now to ensure it doesn’t become a mere memory.

Sadly, Curlews, along with other breeding waders, have almost disappeared from our countryside. These iconic birds have been suffering severe declines for many years. We estimate that around 80% of the Curlew breeding population has been lost since the 1970s alone, and perhaps only a few hundred pairs remain. Whilst they are still a regular sight along our coasts in winter when migrant birds from northern Europe come here to take advantage of our relatively mild winters, feeding in our estuaries and wetlands in large numbers, it is our resident breeding population that is now in danger of extinction.

Curlews can nest in a range of habitats in Ireland, from wet grasslands such as the River Shannon Callows to marginal hill land. They favour damp pastures grazed lightly by cattle, with a scattering of rush tussocks for nesting in and some wet areas to provide insects for their chicks to feed on. Huge changes in the uplands, such as the destruction of peat bogs, afforestation, more intensive management of farmland and the abandonment of some lands, leading to encroachment by scrub, gorse and dense rushes, have all affected Curlew breeding habitat. In the lowlands, drainage of wetlands and intensive management of grasslands have destroyed much of their habitat.

Curlew and other waders are now among our most threatened breeding birds. WITH YOUR HELP, BirdWatch Ireland hopes to carry out a programme of work to bring these birds back from the verge of extinction. We urgently need your donation to:-

  • Carry out a national breeding survey of Curlews and other waders to find out how many breeding pairs remain and where they are located.
  • Fund research into the factors influencing their survival and distribution.
  • Devise ways of restoring their unique habitats, such as re-wetting upland areas, clearing them of gorse and scrub, and improving grazing management to benefit their breeding.
  • Advocate legislation to better protect Curlews year round.

Appeal Target: €99,000

We are appealing to you now for urgently needed funds:

  •  €25 will pay for a ditch-block to re-wet rushy pasture for better breeding conditions.
  •  €50 will pay for a search of a 10km square in an upland area to locate remaining Curlews.
  •  €100 will pay for 20 metres of new wetland edge to provide a feeding area for wader chicks.
  •  €500 will pay for a research fieldworker for one week.
  •  €1,000 will pay for five hectares of grassland management treatments for one year.

BY ACTING NOW, we can prevent further Curlew losses and bring the Curlew back from the verge of extinction in Ireland, ensuring that its haunting call will still be enjoyed in the future.


You can make a donation for the Curlew Appeal by telephoning us directly on 01-2819878 or by emailing us at



 Curlew chicks in damp grassland (Hugh Insley)
Curlew chicks in damp grassland

Curlew on nest in upland pasture (Derek Belsey & Cliff Reddick)
Curlew on nest in upland pasture

Breeding distribution of Curlews in Ireland

The HELP Project

The Halting Environmental Loss Project (HELP) is a cross border initiative between RSPB Northern Ireland (the lead partners), RSPB South West Scotland and BirdWatch Ireland.  The aim is to help conserve populations of farmland birds through direct management of habitats, advisory work with farmers and advocacy.  Exchange of knowledge and best practice across the three regions is also an important element.  BirdWatch Ireland is focussing on the conservation of breeding curlew in the border counties of Ireland through survey and management work.

HELP is funded by the EU's European Regional Development Fund, Northern Ireland's Department of Environment and the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government in the Republic of Ireland.  The EU’s INTERREG IVA Programme is  managed by the Special EU Programmes Body.

For more information about HELP, please click here.



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