The Whimbrel is one of the most widespread of the curlews, breeding across much of subarctic North America, Europe and Asia as far south as Scotland. This is a migratory species wintering on coasts in Africa, South America, south Asia into Australasia and southern North America. It is also a coastal bird during migration. It is fairly gregarious outside the breeding season.
It is mainly greyish brown, with a white back and rump and a long curved bill (longest in the adult female) with a kink rather than a smooth curve. It is generally wary.
The usual call is a rippling whistle, prolonged into a trill for the song. The Whimbrel is smaller, has a shorter, decurved bill and has a central crown stripe and strong supercilia.
This species feeds by probing soft mud for small invertebrates and by picking small crabs and similar prey off the surface. Before migration, berries become an important part of their diet. It has also been observed taking insects, specifically blue tiger butterflies.