Bush Stone-curlew

The Bush Stone-curlew (Burhinus grallarius) is a species of ground-dwelling bird native to Australia. Although related to waders such as the oystercatchers, avocets and plovers, it is a more terrestrial predator and is more like the roadrunners of North America. It remains somewhat common in the northern Australia, but has become rare in the fertile south. Fox predation is considered to be one prime factor for the decline in population to some experts. However, in some areas where foxes are common, the Bush Stone-curlew population remains healthy, so true causes of decline remain uncertain.

Like other stone-curlews, it is mostly nocturnal and specializes in hunting small grassland animals. Frogs, spiders, insects, mollusks, crustaceans, snakes, lizards and small mammals are all taken as food. Sometimes seeds and tubers are taken, particularly in years with extreme drought. The Bush Stone-curlew forages individually or in a pair over an extensive home range. The bird is sure-footed, fast and agile on the ground, and though it seldom flies during daylight hours, it is not clumsy by any means in the air. Its flight is rapid and direct on long, broad wings.

Bush Stone-curlews tend to remain inactive during the day and shelter amongst tall grass or low shrubs. They rely on their cryptic plumage to protect them from predators. If disturbed, they remain motionless, often in odd-looking postures. This does not work for predators that hunt with scent, such as foxes, dingoes or goannas. When threatened (presumably in the presence of a nest), they may raise their wings wide and high in an impressive threat posture and emit a loud hoarse hissing noise.

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