Whimbrels are large shorebirds with long, decurved bills. They are smaller in size than the similar-looking Long-billed Curlew, and their bills are shorter. The Whimbrel has a distinct head pattern, with dark-and-light alternating stripes. The rest of its plumage is plain mottled-brown overall, and does not vary season to season. In flight, it appears brown all over, with a white belly. Its bill is solid black in summer and has a pinkish or reddish base during winter.