The Bush Stone-curlew is an easily identifiable bird given its size (beak to tail length 55-59cm) and appearance (Pizzey and Knight 2003 – The field Guide to the Birds of Australia seventh edition). It stands between 50 and 60cm tall with long legs and has mottled brown, white and grey plumage. The weight of adults varies (recorded weights range from 530 g to 1247 g), with males generally heavier than females (Gates 2001 – An ecological study of the Bush Stone –curlew Burhinus grallarius on Kangaroo Island, South Australia. Unpublished Masters thesis, University of Adelaide.)
The Bush Stone-curlew has a large, yellow eye, a short, dark bill and a hunched appearance when walking (Marchant and Higgins 1993 – Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds volume 2 Oxford University Press Melbourne.). In flight, the Bush Stone-curlew reveals a broad pale panel across the centre of the wing and a flash of white near the wing tips (Marchant & Higgins 1993). It flies with the neck stretched forward and legs trailing beyond the tail tip.
The Bush Stone-curlew is nocturnal and tends to lie or stand motionless in woodlands during the day. Its presence is most often indicated by its distinctive whistling and wailing ‘weer-lo’ calls after dark.
Information taken from Recovery Plan for the Bush Stone-curlew Burhinus grallarius, February 2006, Department of Environment and Conservation NWW.
Habitat and Distribution
The curlew’s range in south-eastern Australia is now largely confined to grassy woodlands and farmland. While the bird is found in all mainland states, its range has declined drastically in south-eastern Australia. It is now extinct in many former locations south of the Great Dividing Range. While its Victorian and New South Wales stronghold is along the border region.
The curlew likes to roost and nest in grassy woodlands, gum or box with low, sparse grassy or herb understorey. Nests are usually beside a fallen log. Curlews prefer a sparse understorey so they can see predators while foraging for insects. Branches on the ground are essential for the bird’s camouflage, and it is unlikely to attempt nesting without the presence of woody litter.
Information taken from the Australian Threatened Species Bush stone-Curlew Burhinus grallarius information pamphlet
The decline of stone-curlew in its southern range has been attributed to predation by the introduced Red Fox Vulpes vulpes, habitat clearance for agriculture and urban development, habitat degradation by pastoralism, and removal of fallen timber from habitat remnants. Other threats include poisoning from pesticides or insecticides and in urban areas, road mortalities and predation by cats and domestic dogs (T. Holmes in litt. 2006, D. Harley in litt. 2007). Population monitoring in south-eastern South Australia suggests that poor nesting success and a lack of juvenile recruitment are significant factors limiting populations (D. Harley in litt. 2007). Nestling mortality, probably owing to predation, appears to be the main cause of nesting failure.
Conservation Status as determined by Conservation Departments of individual Australian States.
VICTORIA: Endangered (and listed under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988)
NEW SOUTH WALES: Endangered (Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995)
SOUTH AUSTRALIA: Vulnerable (National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972)
The information taken from the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. www.iucnredlist.org
Bush Stone-curlews have a wide-ranging diet, but prefer to feed on insects, mollusks, small lizards, seeds and occasionally small mammals. Feeding takes place at night. During the breeding season, nesting birds will search for food in the vicinity of the nest site, while at other times, birds may travel large distances.
Information taken from http://australianmuseum.net.au/Bush-Stone-curlew#sthash.o2eOjB12.dpuf
Breeding and Lifecycle
Bush Stone –curlew can live to around 30 years of age(McGilp 1947, Southern Stone Curlew. South Australian Ornithologist 18, 44-46) and are believed to have long- term pair bonds ( Flavell 1992, Cry of the Curlew. Wildlife Australia .Summer.) Breeding season is from July to January, with a clutch of size: 1 to 3. They can double clutch in a season. Bush Stone-curlews have do a courtship dance which involves Individuals standing with their wings outstretched, their tail upright and their neck stretched slightly forward. The birds will stamp their feet up and down. This courtship ritual is repeated for an hour or more at a time and is accompanied by loud and constant calling.
Eggs are laid in a shallow scrape in the ground, near the edges of grassy woodlands or even in open paddocks, this allows for good visibility (Johnson and Barker-Gabb 1994 , The Bush Thick –knee in Northern Victoria (Part 1) Conservation and Management . Arthur Rylah Institute Technical Report No 129). There have been reports that the same nests maybe used in successive years. Incubation of the eggs is between 22 and 30 days (Andrew 1997 The breeding behavior and success of the Bush Stone-curlew. Burhinus grallarius on Magnetic Island, Honours thesis, James Cook University, Townsville). Both adults share the incubation and care for the young. The chicks are fed by both parents for the approximately four weeks after hatching.
The length of time that the chick stays with the parents is variable within a time-frame of three to nine months. The young from the first clutch are chased away from the nest a week before the next clutch of eggs is laid (Marchant &Higgins ).
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. www.iucnredlist.org
The Australian Threatened Species Bush stone-Curlew Burhinus grallarius information pamphlet
The Australian Museum- http://australianmuseum.net.au/Bush-Stone- curlew #sthash.o2eOjB12.dpuf)
Recovery Plan for the Bush Stone-curlew Burhinus grallarius, February 2006, Department of Environment and Conservation NWW
Birdlife International (2008) and Birdlife Globally Threatened Bird Forums.
|The Zoo and Aquarium Association acknowledges Zoos SA for providing the factsheet information above.|