Bush Stone Curlew

Quick Facts

Length: -
Height: 58 cm
Weight: -
Colour: -
Habitat: -
Food: Insects, molluscs, small lizards, seeds and occasionally small mammals
Predators: Foxes and Feral Cats and land clearing
Status: Secure in NT, QLD & WA. Rare in SA. Endangered in NSW & VIC. Not Present in TAS
Bush Stone Curlew

The Bush Stone-curlew, or Bush Thick-knee, is a large, slim, mainly nocturnal, ground-dwelling bird. It is mostly grey-brown above, streaked with black and rufous. It is whitish below with clear, vertical black streaks. The bill is small and black, and the eye is large and yellow, with a prominent white eyebrow. Both sexes are similar. Young Bush Stone-curlews are similar in appearance to the adults, but are paler, and a little browner in colour. Bush Stone-curlews are nocturnal birds (night birds), doing all their feeding and other activities at night.

The Bush Stone-curlew is quite an unusual looking bird, and unlike any other bird found in Australia. The related Beach Stone-curlew, has a much larger bill and more boldly marked face, and has little or no black streaking on the body.

The range of the Bush Stone-curlew extends throughout Australia.

Bush Stone-curlews have a wide-ranging diet, but prefer to feed on insects, molluscs, 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. All food is taken from the ground.

Bush Stone-curlews have a remarkable courtship dance. Individuals stand with their wings outstretched, their tail upright and their neck stretched slightly forward. The birds will stamp their feet up and down, like a soldier marking time. 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 and both adults share the incubation and care for the young.

The voice is a characteristic drawn-out, mournful "wer-loooo", often heard at dusk and during the night

The Bush Stone-curlew was formerly quite common, but has declined in numbers through loss of habitat and predation by foxes and feral cats. It can be seen on golf courses and even in cemeteries.

Author: Rosalyn Plunkett
Last Updated: Wednesday 8th January, 2014


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