9. Eskimo Curlew
A 1962 photo of an Eskimo Curlew in the wild – one of only four known photographs of a living member of the species
The Eskimo Curlew (Numenius borealis) is – or was – a New World shorebird once found on the tundra in Canada and Alaska’s western Arctic regions. Around 30 centimeters (11.8 in) long and with a long, curved beak, this bird ate snails, other invertebrates and berries while migrating, and insects when stationed on its northerly breeding ground.
Numbering in the millions, the Eskimo Curlew may have once been among the most abundant shorebirds in North America. Its downfall? Hunting. Up to 2 million of the birds were wiped out every year towards the end of the 19th century. There is, however, a glimmer of hope that this curlew may not yet be extinct: sightings were confirmed in 1962 on Galveston Island, TX and in 1963 on Barbados. There have also been several unconfirmed sightings since the 1980s, including one as recently as 2006 in Nova Scotia. If the bird is alive and smart, it’ll continue to keep a low profile.
Written by: Simone Preuss