Curlew, migratory wading bird of pastures and marshes (especially genus Numenius), characterized by a long, down-curving bill. Curlews have become rare as their habitat is turned over to agriculture and building. The Eskimo curlew was once shot in vast numbers as it migrated from Labrador to Argentina. It was thought to have become extinct, but one was seen in Texas in 1959. The first nest of the bristlethighed curlew was found in 1948 near the Yukon River.