Briggsy’s Birds: Curlew’s call plaintive
THE long legged bush stone-curlew is a bird that is active at night and its plaintive wailing calls can be quite unnerving if you do not know what is making them.
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. It is a ground dwelling bird that will only fly short distances and prefers to run away from a threat on its long legs than fly.
They feed on insects, molluscs, small lizards, seeds and occasionally small mammals but all of their food is taken from the ground.
Their courtship display is quite amazing.
They will spread their wings, lift their tail, stretch their neck forward and then start to stamp their feet up and down like a soldier marking time.
This display is accompanied by their loud wailing and can go on for an hour at a time.
They lay their eggs in a simple scrape on the ground which makes them vulnerable to predators such as cats and foxes.
They will also lay their eggs in public places next to paths, in parks and gardens. In some places like caravan parks they have become quite numerous and roam around at night feeding on scraps of food left by visitors.
In defence of their eggs and the young chicks the adults will spread their wings and run at the intruder while hissing.
This can be quite alarming but it is all about frightening the intruder and they will not attack anyone.
The best thing to do is to just back off and walk away.
There is a good population of bush stone-curlews in Queensland but elsewhere in Australia they are declining due to loss of habitat and predation by feral animals such as foxes and cats.
Allan Briggs is the secretary of BirdLife Capricornia, contact him with your questions at email@example.com.