East of England

Curlew Recovery Project

Rescue | Rear | Release

Recovering Curlew through the collection of eggs from airfields, captive-rearing, and release into the wild.

The UK’s Curlew population has declined by around 65% in the last three decades, largely driven by poor nest and chick survival.
Eastern England is home to one of the largest remaining populations in lowland England where Curlew often favour the extensive expanses of semi-natural grassland habitat present on airfields.
However, due to air strike risk, eggs from nesting Curlew have historically been destroyed under licence on many airfields.
We are using a new conservation tool – ‘Headstarting’, whereby eggs are collected soon after laying, the chicks reared in captivity and then released back into the wild.

Egg Collection

Eggs are collected from airfields by Natural England and MoD staff.


Collected eggs are hatched and reared by Pensthorpe’s expert team of aviculturists.

Release and Monitoring

Chicks are released when they are about 50 days old and monitored by BTO scientists.


Eggs collected from airfields


Total Curlew released

Curlew Tracking

Report a Sighting

To monitor the behaviour and movements of headstarted Curlew post-release, we depend on members of the public to report sightings of these birds.

Please use our form to report a sighting of an Eastern England headstarted Curlew.

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