Bush Stone-curlew Frank O'Connor

Bush Stone-curlew

Burhinus grallarius

Did You Know?

  • Its courtship ritual may last for an hour or more at a time.
  • It is listed as Endangered in Victoria and New South Wales, and is Vulnerable in South Australia.
  • It was once quite common in southern Australia but has declined in numbers because of loss of habitat through land clearing, and predation by foxes and feral cats.
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The Bush Stone-curlew has large yellow eyes and long thin legs. Its colouring is mostly grey-brown above, with bold black and rufous streaks. It has buff and white underparts with black streaks. Young birds are similar in colour, but are generally paler.

Distinctive feature

A prominent white eyebrow

Size

54 – 59 cm; wingspan is 82 – 105 cm

Behaviour

Call

A drawn-out, mournful "wer-loooo", often heard at dusk and at night..

Diet

It eats insects and other arthropods, molluscs, small lizards, seeds and occasionally small mammals, which are taken from the ground at night.

Movement

Usually sedentary, with some local movements when not breeding.

Breeding

One to three eggs are laid in a shallow scrape in the ground or on a small bare batch. Both adults incubate the eggs and care for the young. As a prelude to breeding, the species performs a courtship dance where multiple birds stand facing one another, bobbing and bowing to one another, then following one another about in a crouched posture.

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What to Observe

  • Courting/Mating

  • Calling

  • Feeding

  • Bird on chicks

  • Bird on eggs

  • Bird on nest

  • Bird feeding young

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When and Where

When To Look

  • Breeding occurs between June and December in northern Australia, and August to January further south
  • Young birds usually leave the nest within a day of hatching, but remain within 200 m of the nest for several weeks

Where To Look

  • In open grassy forests and woodlands, particularly where there is fallen timber which they usually nest beside.
  • It occurs in many parts of mainland Australia, though generally not in many arid and semi-arid areas (especially in Western Australia, South Australia and western NSW) and in southern Victoria and south-eastern NSW.
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Similar Species

It is unlikely to be confused with any other bird in Australia.

Beach Stone-curlew (Esacus magnirostris) has a large bill and a more boldly marked face. It also lacks bold streaking on its body.