Bush Stone Curlew

Bush Stone Curlew

(Burhinus grallarius) 

Commonly called a Willaroo.

Description: The Bush stone-curlew is one of NSWs most recognisable woodland bird species. It is also known as “Bush thick knee” or “Willaroo”.  It has gangly legs, large yellow eyes, grey to brown back, marked with black blotches, buff and white underparts with dark streaks. A black band that runs from its eye down to its neck, a prominent white eyebrow. The bill is small and black.

It is a big bird and look a little like a roadrunner with their long thin legs built for speed. Both sexes are similar.

The nocturnal birds calls at night, their high pitched sound floats easily through the night over long distances.

They are not great flyers and usually resort to camouflage when being threatened pretending to be a small log. Foxes are their main predator.

Size: 54-59 cm tall

Voice: their call is loud, eerie, wailing “weer-loo” or “koo-loo” which is mostly heard in the evenings. Mournful, wailing

Feeding: Feed mostly at night on insects and small vertebrates including snakes, lizards, frogs and mice. All food is taken from the ground.

Habitat: they inhabit open forests and grassy woodlands.

Location: Numbers have vastly declined in south eastern parts of Australia. Found in all states except Tasmania. Quite rare - lucky if you see one.

Eggs:  Usually 2. They lay their eggs in a shallow scrape on the ground which makes their nests an easy target to predators. Typical eggs are yellowish-stone or yellowish grey with spots of light brown, dull umber or inky grey.

Breeding:  August to January. In pairs when breeding, but forms small parties which may be locally nomadic outside breeding season. Both adults share the incubation and care for the young.

They have a remarkable courtship dance. The Curlew stand with their wings outstretched, their tail upright and their necks stretched slightly forward. The birds will stamp their feet marking time, this is repeated for an hour or more and is accompanied by loud calling.

Acknowledgements: www.Birdlife.org.au Field Guide to the Birds of Australia: Simpson and Day,  A Naturalists Guide to the Birds of Australia: Dean Ingwersen National Geographic, What Bird is that?: Neville W Cayleys,

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