So much is unknown about Queensland Bush Stone-curlew ecology and behaviour. Information for this article has been gathered from publicly available sources and research undertaken by Griffith University PhD student, Scott O’Keeffe, who is mid-way through a project on urban Bush Stone-curlew ecology.

The Bush Stone-curlew or Bush Thick-knee (Burhinus grallarius) is a large ground- dwelling bird with a wingspan of 55-60 cm. They can live for 20 years, sometimes more. They are a terrestrial predator adapted to stalking and running. Bush Stone-curlews are considered common in Queensland but since no monitoring of the species has been carried out in South East Queensland, it is possible that they could suffer the serious declines evident in southern states. In New South Wales they are listed as Endangered and in Victoria, Threatened.

The Bush Stone-curlew call is an evocative and unforgettable sound. It is a penetrating, strident, wail, rising with a slight waver, and dropping at the end and often repeated a number of times in quick succession.

Curlew Habitat

Bush Stone-curlews inhabit open country and avoid dense vegetation. Their ancestral habitats include grasslands, open woodland, mallee, mangroves and rainforest fringes. They are also found in highly modified environments such as golf courses, rail reserves, roadsides with sparse vegetation, urban parkland and grazing land. Curlews prefer landscapes that give them good visibility at ground level, so they usually inhabit areas with bare ground or low ground cover and widely spaced trees and shrubs. Sites where the ground is covered with leaves, twigs, sticks, stones or sparse grass are preferred for nesting since curlews rely on camouflaged eggs and cryptic plumage to avoid predators.

Curlews protect themselves by combining natural camouflage with good visibility to see predators approaching. If necessary they can respond with distraction and threat displays called ‘mantling’. Animals that take eggs and chicks include the usual suspects such as foxes, dogs and cats (feral and pet). Native predators include kookaburras, goannas, pythons, quolls and the Australian White Ibis.

Since curlews are largely nocturnal, they roost inconspicuously during the day in clumps of trees or among fallen timbers. In urban areas, curlews will often roost in raised garden beds with clumped shrubs and grasses or grass-like plants. Curlews forage at night in open areas such as playing fields, parkland, pasture with low grass, and sometimes mangroves, salt marshes and mudflats. The home ranges of curlews appear to vary widely according to ‘habitat quality’ and food abundance.

Curlew Diet

Bush Stone-curlews are mainly nocturnal and specialise in hunting small grassland animals, mainly invertebrates. They will also take some small vertebrates such as frogs, lizards, snakes and occasionally small mammals. In coastal areas, they may add molluscs and crustaceans to their diet. Curlews will also eat small seeds and fruits. They obtain moisture from their food and do not need surface water for drinking.

Urban Adaptations

The range of unusual behaviours exhibited by many curlews in urban areas suggests that they are capable of significantly modifying their behaviour to take advantage of urban resources.

For instance, curlews breed in Brisbane’s Southbank Parklands, despite the constant presence of noisy humans and traffic. During the day they roost quietly in the edges of shrubbery unnoticed by the crowds. At night, they can often be seen in the shopping precinct harvesting the bounty of insects and geckoes that are drawn to bright lights.

An Adult Curlew on a nest
Bush Stone-curlews are masters of camouflage, which they use to hide themselves, their nests and their young from potential predators. An adult curlew on a nest. Photo by Todd Burrows.
Curlew Eggs
Curlew eggs. Photo by Todd Burrows.

In some instances, curlews have adapted to nesting in concrete environments, next to walls and buildings, and even in seemingly hostile environments such as industrial estates with little vegetation. They have been observed nesting under buildings including a demountable site office on stumps in an industrial estate. Curlews in the wild have no equivalent nesting sites. Curlews have been observed collecting cigarette butts and surrounded their nests with them. Perhaps the nicotine in the cigarette butts repels parasites or acts as an insecticide.

Curlews…are capable of significantly modifying their behaviour to take advantage of urban resources.

How Adaptable are Curlews?

Consider the case of Coochiemudlo Island. Between 2001 and 2014, the human population rose by 47%, from 518 to 759. In that same period, the curlew population increased by 154%, from 74 to 188 birds. Over this time, the island has seen significant growth in housing, changes to the natural environment and the introduction of more pet cats and dogs. As more people have settled on the island, they have thinned the island’s natural forest cover, creating a park-like environment, increasing the potential foraging areas for curlews. Unlike the mainland, there are fewer fences restricting curlew movement and there are no foxes.

A significant proportion of residents deliberately provide food for the curlews, which may be significant enough to increase fitness and therefore survival of chicks and adults. This is not a firm conclusion, and the role of supplementary feeding is still under investigation.

Sedentary or Migratory?

Studies in NSW and Queensland have recorded short distance flights by curlews (up to about 15 km) as well as long distance movement (500 km over two nights). But we have no clear picture of patterns of, or triggers for, movement through the landscape. Do we need to provide continuous terrestrial habitat corridors for movement, or can curlews successfully negotiate the city to move from one physically isolated patch to another? We just don’t know.

Curlews nesting under a building
Curlews nesting under a building in Oxley. This behaviour shows one way in which curlews have adapted to urban areas. Photo by Scott O’Keeffe.
A fox takes a Bush Stone-curlew egg
A fox takes a Bush Stone-curlew egg from a nest near Ipswich.

Curlew Conservation

Our knowledge of the ecology of Bush Stone-curlews remains limited. However, we can still propose some practical measures, based on sound science and observation, to assist with their conservation:

• Minimise disturbance of curlew nesting areas by restricting human and pet access, such as leashing your dog while walking in a park.

• Do not approach nesting curlews, especially with a dog.

• Do not place food near curlew nests (well-meaning but ill-advised). Even the residual smell of food can attract animals, including predators which can kill curlews and their chicks.

• Assess an area before undertaking gardening or maintenance. Curlews
on their nests and their eggs are well camouflaged and can be easily overlooked by gardeners. Avoid working within ten metres of a curlew nest.

• Fence woodland remnants that are known or potential curlew habitat areas, and leave fallen branches and debris on the ground.

• Use wildlife-friendly fencing that allows curlews to move and spot predators.

• Report sightings of pest animals and assist local government to manage wild dogs, feral cats and foxes.

• Manage domestic and feral animals on your own property.

• Carefully manage introduced weed species to enhance curlew habitat. Areas where dense, tall grasses grow are avoided by curlews.

• Join patches of native vegetation to increase the size of habitat areas and avoid clearing native vegetation.

To share your sightings of Bush Stone- curlews in the Greater Brisbane area or to find out more about Scott’s research, contact Scott O’Keeffe c/ Environmental Futures Research Institute, Griffith University or 0457 328 442 or [email protected].

A wide wing display
A wide wing display is one way in which Bush Stone-curlews try to distract potential predators away from their nests. Photo by Scott O’Keeffe.

References & Further Reading

Department of Environment and Conservation NSW (2006) NSW Recovery Plan for the Bush Stone-curlew Burhinus grallarius. DEC, Sydney.

Pizzey G & Knight F (2012) The Field Guide to the Birds of Australia. Harper Collins.

Sleigh S, Williams L & Stothers K (2010) The Bush Stone-curlew in Northern Victoria – Conversations and Conservation. Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority.

Threatened Species Network. Australian Threatened Species: Bush stone-curlew Fact Sheet.

Article co-authored by Amanda Maggs, Brisbane City Council and Scott O’Keeffe, Griffith University.

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127 responses on “The Queensland Bush Stone-curlew

  1. Little known fact in relation to Bush Stone Curlew: Immediately after hatching, parent bird removes the evidence by collecting and hiding all egg fragments.

    For 9 years same pair nesting in my backyard (Cairns)

    1. Is that nest made from red and white jumper wire and held together with overhead ironwork?
      I’m sure the phone system for them is working perfectly.

    2. That’s interesting because I’ve got a pair on my property who were sitting on 2 eggs. I noticed the eggs and all traces of the eggs were gone. I thought a snake had eaten the eggs. Later I found the Bush Stone Curlews in another part of the garden with 2 chicks.

      1. I live in a fairly busy little pocket of suburban Brisbane. There’s a railway station and a few blocks of low-rise units. Lots of cars coming and going. Got home yesterday to see two of my neighbours in our complex looking at something in the landscaped area. I said “what’s going on?” They drew my attention to this bird – a curlew. Looked like a rather tallish juvenile. As they do, it was standing stock still. Lots of cars coming in and out of the complex so quite a perilous area. Later that night I head the adult calling. And a bit after that what sounded like the chick responding with a clucking type of sound. This morning it’s nowhere to be seen, so so hope it’s OK and reunited with it’s parents. Last weekend we had some violent storms with much thunder and lightning. Perhaps it was frightened and got separated from the family. I was wondering how long it takes for the parents to give up calling for one of their young. 🤔

        1. Hi Jan,
          I’m intrigued to know if the curlew you were observing in November 2021 have returned? I am doing a bit of research into their urban adaptation and am looking for curlews in built up environments in Brisbane.

          1. Hi Dominique. We have some Curlews nesting in our street in Arana Hills. Last night one of them bailed us up as we were going for a walk. As we tried to navigate around him we saw his partner with a tiny young baby. Best of luck with your research, they are beautiful birds.

          2. There is a curlew that I had noticed in a neighborhood yard when taking daughter to school. Only noticed it a day or so ago. It was noticed there a while ago and then disappeared. I thought something had gotten them. But she has returned in the last few days almost in the same area of the yard.

          3. We have a recently new pair of curlew ( we saw them find each other after a lonely one sang to itself all night to it’s reflection). Currently we are watching an egg laying ( or think we are)

          4. Hi Dominique, in case you’re still interested in the curlews in an urban environment, there is/was a pair in my front garden over the past week. One has not been around today, but the other is still here. I’m interested in whether they mate for life.

          5. I saw one in the gardens outside the theatre on South Bank facing the river . It was just on dark at the beginning of November 2023 .

    3. A mating pair of Curlews (only one year old) have hatched their first pair of chicks, lost them both in storm water drain on consecutive days. One month later the second pair of chicks were hatched. One of them injured its foot. We called wildlife rescue, when the chick was taken away the Curlew family ran away. A few days later we saw them in the neighborhood without the remaining chick. One month later they successfully hatched one chick, but the other chick suffocated during hatching. The head was out of shell but membrane covering beak. The Curlews are not feeding the remaining chick. What would you do?

    4. Will the babies be gone as well, ive had two eggs and in the morning after nearly 25 days the curlews and eggs are gone?

      I’m quit upset. 🙁

  2. How long ( months) before the parents leave the chicks to fend for themselves? There are largish chicks near our home whose parents haven’t returned in 3 days. is this normal?

    1. I am wondering this myself (3 years later!). We saw baby chicks at our place in early October. I saw the parents with their (one remaining) baby last week, but today the parents are without the baby. The chick would only be about 3 months old… I am a little worried! Maretta

  3. I live on Coochiemudlo Island and I am pleased to say that my back block of land has become their territory. So it is nice to agree to what has been written. In terms of eggs however there has been some seasons not always, where the mother has laid as many as four eggs and the chicks survived. However as mentioned on average its two eggs that are laid. Currently I have a curlew mother who laid one egg on Monday and laid a second on Friday which is something I have not observed occurring in the past. Would welcome your feedback.

    1. I have a pair of curlews which just hatched 2 eggs 5 hours apart. The eggs were laid about 2 days apart. The parents removed the eggshells.

      1. I saw a family of three curlews in a small area of bushland at the river end of Summners Rd Riverhills Brisbane early May 2020.

        1. I live at the end of Sumners Rd and there has been a curlew standing in our front garden for the past two weeks.

  4. we have a bush curlew who has been sitting on 2 eggs for about 6 weeks – i read the incubation period was 28 days – when do they leave the eggs if they don’t hatch?

  5. We had a family camping in our front yard. Two parents and a chick. We didn’t feed or bother them. The parents left the chick and went hunting. One morning the chick was just a mess of feathers and the parents left.

    Those parents came back months later with two chicks. This time we fed them, chased away cats and kept a watch over the chicks when the parents went hunting. Feeding them all resulted in one of the parents staying behind for the easy meals.

    The chicks grew and the parents realised these kids were too lazy to go hunting at night. The parents moved a couple of streets away. One of the kids moved on and that left the young male.

    My sister visiting with her old dog, who decided to go and lay in the shade. Sat on the Curlew. The Curlew hasn’t slept in our front yard since that incident, but visits every other night and gets fed.

    Two nights ago, visited with his girlfriend and new chick. We fed them and they left. Last night they came back and we fed them. As the they were leaving a 4WD drove over the chick crossing the road.

    The driver stopped but it was a quick death. The parents wailed and flapped.
    We had to pick the dead chick off the road because the parents were staying with it on the road. So the dead chick was on our nature strip. The parents stood over it making chook chook noises followed by an occasional wail. This went on from midnight until dawn, when they left. We went out and buried the chick in our front yard. The parents came back tonight and are standing at the spot they last saw their dead chick. Just standing there.

    Feel bad for them. It is their family history repeated, The original parents had one chick and lost it, then had two the next time. This male is from that nest. So next time….. two chicks?

    1. A Curlew chick was opposite my house, across the road, next to the rainforest. It was standing, then sat on the edge of the vegetation amongst the dead leaves. It looked lost and I was afraid that it may get run over by a car. I put on gloves, then helped to guide it into a bird box.

      Later on a large Curlew came by and they were calling each other. The chick left and walked onto the footpath. The adult bird looked like it was attacking the chick. Luckily the chick hid in my garden and remained still. I guided it into the bird box again to keep it safe.

      I gave the adult bird some food, which I have never done before. It ate it and is waiting on my footpath. Should I let the chick out or will it be in danger? Do Curlew parents abandon their young for any reason? Will an adult Curlew hurt a chick? Perhaps the adult Curlew was reprimanding the chick for getting lost.

  6. I live in Palm Beach 4221 and walked right past 3 beautiful curlews yesterday afternoon – I only noticed them because one hissed at me! There they were standing right next to the path in a highly populated street across the road from a school, which is perhaps their foraging ground. I was wondering if there any education initiatives for schools, to bring their awareness to the birds living on the grounds and in the vicinity, its such a busy and noisey area with the school kids and hectic pick up and drop off traffic. It would be great to have signs around to bring peoples attention to the fact that these curlews live in this area. It seems like such a miracle they’re here with all the dogs that run around unleashed and ibis that hang in the school yard. Any thoughts or suggestions?

    1. I have two large witches hats that I put at each end of the area, where our curlews nest.
      I bought them from Council Buyback in Cairns for $4 each.
      I gave them a good scrub and wrote the words, WILDLIFE KEEP CLEAR.
      On Council Lawn Mowing days, the drivers take great care.
      Its also a good idea to put water out for the hen, when she is nesting,
      The male does take a turn at sitting on the eggs.
      The eggs must be kept at a certain temperature to develop.
      We love our curlews!

  7. We have had a young curlew living on our patio for two months {Bundaberg}. We have not seen or heard any others. During the day he stands in the corner next to a pot plant, then on dusk he goes feeding. He looks at his reflection in the glass thinking it is a mate. He chatters away and holds his wings out. I hear him pecking at insects on the house at night. Since he has been with us, I haven’t seen any Gecko’s. So we are very happy about that. The family of Magpies here give him a hard time. I worry about his future because he does not fight back or run away. I love the way he rests on his haunches with his legs folded backwards and feet extended out the front of him.

  8. Hi. I am in central Queensland and we have 1 lone curlew who visits Early morning and late afternoon.
    Has been doing this for over a year.
    Would it be correct that it is on its own?

  9. I live in cairns. I have open lawn, no fence and balcony all around house. Every night, all night the curlews(two I think) circle around the house screaming and tapping on the windows with their beaks. We cant leave doors open or they come in and poo everywhere. Yes we are under seige! If we have visitors we have to warn them as they wake everybody up at night. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to dissuade them? They seem to becoming more and more territorial.

    1. Hi Joe. Wildlife is wonderful to have around, but they can sometimes be tricky to live next to. Obviously, don’t feed them or leave out pet food or have open compost bins. Consider putting up anti-reflective material on windows so they do not see their own reflection. There is really no getting around the fact that these are nocturnal animals that can be noisy at night – maybe a good pair of earplugs? Goodluck.

  10. We have possibly up to three different groups of them in our neighbourhood (they have been here for about five weeks now) and some of them sit under the window all night screaming their heads off. I literally cannot take it anymore as i am getting absolutely no sleep.
    Are their any wildlife specialists or professionals who could relocate them?

    1. To all those who can’t sleep due to our nocturnal curlews…..I fix the problem by listening to meditation tapes at night – I good headset and guided meditation tapes and I’m off with the fairies pretty quickly. You could also try music or anything that can get you to sleep. And there’s always earplugs.

      We live on Russell Island which is (one of the Southern Moreton Bay islands and the island is full of them. Personally, I think they are just gorgeous and I love the songs they sing. I do admit the screaming in the middle of the night takes a bit to get used to, but once again the headset fixes that! I’ve lived all over Australia but had never seen one before moving here 12 months ago.

      To Rob – if they really are driving you nuts call someone from wildlife rescue. Just do a google search – wildlife rescue plus your suburb.

  11. My friends sister leaves a small ‘pool’ of water out in her back yard – that joins onto an open playground etc area in Cairns north Queensland – and the Curlews use it to bath in, loving to use it each day no matter what seasons are. Once in the ‘wet season’ when she thought they wouldn’t need the pool filled they would all stand around the area as if wondering what had happened to their bath.

  12. Moved to Coochiemudlo Island about 5 months ago. Vacant block – trees and sparse grass – beside me. Have been watching (quite close to my house/driveway) a pair of curlews sitting two eggs for about a month (they tag-teamed the egg-sit). Yesterday morning two newly-hatched chicks. Watched them all day; ranged over the block a bit; both parents with the chicks all day. Last night at dusk, still two chicks. This morning only one chick. This morning, ‘Father’ crossed the road, leaving Mum and chick near my home…. Since around mid-morning, i haven’t seen Mum nor chick (unusual?, as they’ve been living on that small vacant block for the whole time (before the eggs were laid, the curlews were part of a group of four who live between the block and the yard opposite mine). Luckily, very little road traffic on Coochie… Someone told me that the father curlews tend to attack the chicks, but the two curlews were very protective and gentle with the eggs, and then with the chick/s at all times (far as i know). Am hoping that the remaining chick has survived. Would be reassuring to see her/him…

  13. Very excited I have just noticed I have a pair of Bush curlews in our yard in Camira QLD ,they call at night and are very hard to spot during the day ,I have been looking to see if they have a nest, on the ground but haven’t been able to find it as yet. Just hoping they do.

  14. Hi ,I live in Yeppoon, central Queensland. We have a pair of curlews who have been together for quite a while. We don’t have fences between three houses so they nest in one or the others depending on what’s going on. A hen is nesting on an egg in my backyard at the moment. Unfortunately not all chicks have lived over the years. A fox or dog or other has taken them. My pets ,two cats and a small dog are not at all interested in them and I think the curlews could stand up to most cats or small dogs with their scary tactics. Anyway we all love them and get quite excited if new chicks are born. I have put water out for them and put a long stool and palfrey fronds over her today as it was so hot. Hope I was doing the right thing. I don’t feed them.

  15. Sighted a group of 9 curlews this afternoon at Philip Park (opposite Seaworld) on The Spit, Gold Coast.
    Nice to see them.

  16. Hi, we have a pair of curlers who have nested on our front naturestrip over the kart few years. She has just laid her two eggs and is sitting on the nest. However I have not seen the father for about 36 hours and I’m concerned something may have happened to him. If so, how can I help her to get through the nesting season? Food? Protection? I’m concerned she won’t make it through on her own.

  17. We are in Yeppoon and there is a curlew must be sitting on eggs by a rather busy road. Wondering how long the eggs take to hatch because it’s a few weeks now since we first saw them..

  18. Since I have lived here in Cairns, (4 years) there have been a pair of Bush Stone Curlews living beside a remnant rain forest, just inches from the road!
    My friend and I, try to take some kind of care of these mysterious birds.
    In so doing, we have found that something dire has always happened to each ideal, 4 bird family group.
    This has demonstrated to us, that each pair of curlews is the decedent of the prior couple, before trouble decimated their family.
    We never found out how any bird disappeared, but we have witnessed some very cruel and witless behaviors from adults and children living here.
    At times chicks, or an adult have ended up with a broken leg or are squashed flat on the road.
    It is heart breaking for those kind souls, who care for nature, to see this happening each generation, where we have been so fortunate to interact in a small way, with these beautiful intelligent birds.

  19. Scott ,have left a message for you.I am in Manunda ,a suburb of Cairns and a pair of Curlews have produced two beautiful chicks in the garden of the units in which I live . I also thought the worst when there was no evidence of the nest or the eggs but the cock bird confronted my Mobility Scooter yesterday as I returned home but backed off ass I spoke quietly to him and mother showed off her two chicks –just beautiful for an 85 yerold duck like me to see this in an Urban Environment .Many thanks for your work.
    Regards , Alan Murdoch

  20. We are in Ocean View 4521 and can report two families on our property, one family happily tucked themselves on the tree line, probably on there second nest. The other family are nesting between our dog fence and property fence which is our path for getting the ride on to the back of the property. So will have to be mighty aware for the next couple of weeks.

  21. Does anybody know how long the adult curlews (the parents) stay with their chicks? We had a family group of 2 parents and 2 chicks who used to visit faithfully in the evening. We’re now seeing the chicks on their own, they would be about 3 months old and close to adult size.

    We also had the parent of on of the adults around until the new pair had chicks – then they chased poor old grand-dad away….is this normal behavior?

    I’ve loved reading all your comments, I only met our lovely bush stone-curlews about a year ago and I think they’re just wonderful!

    By the way, I’ve read on the “official” sites that the birds don’t drink water (apparently they get sufficient moisture from food)) but we keep a bowl of water out for all the wildlife and I’ve seen the curlews drink a number of times. Anyone else seen this?

  22. Have a pair at our place at Yeppoon. Started egg laying this week, second egg this morning. In an open area behind our place. We fear for the egg survival as we do get a lot of goannas here. Will watch with interest.

    1. Don’t ever worry about goannas eating their eggs, I’ve seen goannas run for their lives to get away from them

  23. We had two Curlews nesting in our car park in Carindale, 4152. They were here for about three months and laid three different clutches of eggs. They abandon the eggs prior to hatching and move their nesting site. The last pair of eggs were abandoned last week, and now the birds are gone as well. Very sad.

  24. We have discovered a pair of Curlews in Springfield Lakes, they have adopted the local Car Park and have been seen walking around at night have been their 12 months. Another pair has just had a chick in another location at the University. We do have foxes and my guess is they like the car parks for food & protection from predators. I have heard them calling late at night eiry but sad in a way. Fascinating but crazy birds when they do their I’m a stature freeze pose.

    1. Yes , saw a curlew in car park at Bunnings stafford in 2021…I actually thought she WAS a statue until I got closer and saw feathers. She had one leg up and looked frozen. Ran into bunnings out of concern and they mentioned her and mate had recently lost 2 chicks. Cats are huge predators of wildlife, and as bunnings allows dogs, a customers dog destroyed her eggs…apparently she just stood in that place where her eggs /nest were mourning for hours each day. Poor girl. I didnt see her mate

  25. Hi
    I have nesting curlews in my yard of 1 acre at tallai qld 4213
    They are much smaller in size to your examples.
    They are about 200mm high and have a wingspan of about the same.
    I am wondering if they are a sub species

  26. Our Curlew story.. We live at The Gap, Brisbane and we had heard the Curlews at night with their call. However in mid 2017 two Curlews arrived at our back door and seemed very hungry, as we already feed many native birds we fed them food also and they had some water as well. In September they made a nest in our large backyard and took turns to be fed but in October they just up and left. We had no idea if they had had a baby or if a Creditor took the eggs. How ever in February 2018 the two former Curlews turned up at our back door with a large baby in tow. They proceeded to teach the baby how to eat by making a clicking sound for the baby to pick the food up in his beak but he soon learnt to do it himself. Through the year they all disappeared but in September the two parent birds returned and again nested in the back yard. In October our family went away for three weeks holidays but when we returned they Curlews had gone. However on the 9th January this year the Curlews again returned to our back door with another long legged baby in tow and they repeated their teaching baby how to eat. They also enjoyed the water as baby liked to splash in it. The Curlew family continue to wander off each night for food elsewhere. We have enjoyed this interesting journey with our Curlew family.

  27. I would agree with most information about the lovely bush stone curlew except the surface water. The ones in my yard drink many times a day from a bucket of water that I put out for the bush turkeys who have a nest around 2 meters away from the curlews as the turkey passes out sometimes on hot days because he works so endlessly. The curlew drinks way more than the turkey. I have many photos of the water drinking culprit!

  28. We live on Lamb Island in the Southern Moreton Bay. We have many families of Curlews living on the island. We have a family which lives very close to our house and our large vacant block next door. Once we found a chick squashed/run over by a car, which was very upsetting. They are funny, when we return home sometimes of a night when our car lights are on, they appear on the road in front of our car, we go slowly but they still extend their wings and make a hissing sound, but do not seem to have the sense to go to the side, they fly in front of our car the whole way down the street. They “stand totally still” sometimes as a defence mechanism. When we first moved here they would live under our house, but now they have decided to move to the block a couple of doors away, which is not cleared, as I think we move around a bit more than the lady before us who lived on her own. One night, not long after we first moved here, I heard the most blood curdling sound coming from one of the birds, as if it was gurgling, I think a domestic cat attacked it and the horrific sound disappeared off into the night. I was so upset, so since that night, if I see a cat anywhere near my property I angrily chase them away. We found two skulls and backbone behind our shed, obviously some pray had eaten them.

  29. We have a bush stone curlew family in the park one house away from ours – no fences between us and the park, fallen branches and low shrubbery, 2 cul-de-sacs and a large grassed easement to a through road, all bordering the park, so 3 different escape routes, Sometimes they visit us, especially if the Council is mowing the park (they come running). I leave out a low container of water for them to stand in, in hot weather. Sometimes they sit on the concrete in front of our pool gate or in the garden beds next to the pool fence where they have clear line of sight and escape routes in 2 directions.. We have seen them raise 2 chicks in the last 6 months. (1 on each occasion).

    About a week ago in the evening, I heard some uncharacteristic screeching commotion and saw the 2 adults running and flying into our cul-de-sac. A man with a torch and a dog were chasing the parents. My husband and I went into the cul-de-sac and yelled at him (threatened him with the RSPCA). He went away and hasn’t attempted that again as far as we know. Maybe he doesn’t like the sounds we sometimes hear from them at night. Too bad, so sad! I was concerned for their welfare but then last night saw all 3 in our cul-de-sac.

    There is a large colony of the birds in or near Strollers Cricket Ground in Redbank Plains about 500m from the intersection of Collingwood Drive and Redbank Plains Rd. Last Tuesday I saw about a dozen birds there on the cricket ground feeding during the day (even though they are nocturnal). This location is large and open, near Six Mile Creek riparian zone and on the edge of dense bushland, so ideal for the birds. There is a lot of residential development going on in our area but they appear unfazed.

    Hope this information helps with Griffith Uni’s research.

  30. We visited Moreton Island last year (Tangalooma), and there seemed to be hundreds! They quite comfortably strolled around the paths and cafes.

    They were very different to the more reserved curlews we have at home (Milton 4064). Currently we have a family of 3. My 2-year-old son loves them, especially when they nest outside our house. He can see them from his bedroom window and the kitchen window, and likes to say we have breakfast with the curlews.

    One of my most distinct memories of them is from a couple of years ago. The family were at the top of the driveway as we came home one night, we drove very slowly to give them time to get away. I saw one of the parents shoo the chick in one direction (further into the garden), while the parent ran ahead of us with its wings spread in order to distract us. I am very glad to assure you that they all came out just fine because we love having them around and drove very slowly. It was the display of parental instict that resonated with me that night.

    One last comment: have you come across the picture book “Colour for Curlews”? It’s quite cute.

  31. Can a curlew be re located we have one at work that needs to be re located
    To a better location other than the factory carpark

    1. It is preferable not to relocate curlews unless where they are living is about to be cleared. They often successfully breed and forage in urban areas such as carparks.

  32. Great! Thanks for that information. Our Curlews must be quite old for producing chicks now. They still stay together,. Even though they may go missing regularly, they always return to their chosen spot right beside the busy road. It was the place where they were born or met up. They have succeeded in raising several brood of chicks, however we have seen some disasters with chicks. Cairns Council Lawn Mowing guys are aware of the Curlews and take great care with them.

  33. Yes, I’ve seen curlews drink water.
    We have a breeding pair in our yard (next to a nature park). Last year they raised one chick (now driven off) and a few days ago surfaced with 2 gorgeous chicks.
    I put some water out but want to leave a large badin do they can get into it.

  34. Hello!

    We have just come across a mother laying on 2 eggs in our work car park. Unfortunately she has laid in an area that is too close to cars driving and I am very worried for her unborn babies as they hatch and start to explore.

    Does anyone know the best course of action? The local bird and wildlife center said that they could only relocate the eggs and this does make me extremely sad and uneasy for the parents.

    We work near the airport so there are snakes, rabbits and even foxes at times.

    1. Hi Courtney. We recommend that you don’t try to move these nesting birds. They have chosen that site for good reasons. If it proves unsuccessful as a breeding site, they will move elsewhere. Often human traffic, including cars, provides some protection against cats and foxes.

  35. I live in Sarina, Mackay on 5 acres and I have a large native garden. I get curlews every year but sadly due to increased traffic so many get hit by cars.
    I have a bird in my garden at the moment with a broken leg. Can they survive like this? It’s wings seem fine. It’s been about 10 days. My dogs don’t seem to worry it and my yard is fenced. We lock our dogs up at night.
    Lots of fruiting plants and other wildlife in my garden but should I put some food out for it?
    I would really appreciate any input. Thanks in advance all

  36. I have a pair of Curlews who nest in my back yard every year (Atherton FNQ)
    The female nests in leaf litter out in full sun, no shade at all & she pants all day in the heat, poor thing. I leave water close by in the shade of a small lemon tree. The male Curlew keeps watch nearby and he drinks the water. I’m assuming the female will drink during the night.
    They attempt to raise two chicks every year, but they have never had both chicks survive more than a couple months. Only once in the 15 years I’ve been here has a single chick reached adulthood. Neighborhood cats claim most of them, others have been crushed on the road as they tend to wander in the evenings and early mornings. It’s very sad to see and I always feel I should help them somehow.

    1. Another breeding season and they have failed once again to bring new birds into being.
      I should not have been so fast to blame cats last time as this year I twice saw a large owl trying to get the first two chicks, which I assume it eventually did. The hen soon after laid two more eggs but only one hatched. It survived for about 2½ weeks and now too has met it’s fate somehow. I get so sad for the chicks and almost angry at the parents for being so utterly useless at raising young. They ought to stay in the bush instead of an urban area!

  37. I have a curlew sitting on eggs on my front lawn in Killaloe (near Port Douglas). She doesn’t seem to move at all and almost looks like she is ill. She is stretched out lengthways with her head resting on a tree root. The male (I assume) seems to have disappeared as I haven’t seen him for a week or more. Hope she hatches her chicks as we do have big goannas wandering around. I hope she is ok as she doesn’t seem to mind me walking past her. I do keep my distance though.

  38. We have a pair at our local park that have raised multiple broods but the chicks never survive. They are fine for the first 2 weeks when mostly under mum at the nest site but once they start to get more active they both disappear by about 3-4 weeks of age. First one and then the other a few days later. We suspect a cat but have regularly set a trap without luck and there is never any sign of an attack when we inspect the park carefully immediately following a chick disappearance (eg no feathers, remains). Could it be owls? Really frustrating!

    1. Hi Chris. Both cats and foxes will often take their prey away from the site where they catch it to consume it. If it is an owl, then that is just nature in action, as hard as that can be to see.

  39. Yesterday I saw a curlew looking through the window at Coles Alderley. It did not seem worried about all the people and cars moving about the car park. I came out of the supermarket 10 minutes later and it was still there. Perhaps it has a nest nearby. The supermarket has an underground car park and trees and shrubs surrounding it. I live in nearby Grange and often hear their call during the night.

  40. Over the past 5 years we have had a number of breeding pairs ‘renting’ our back garden while nesting and successfully raising their chicks. Last year 2019 one pair laid two clutches, neither of which hatched. One day 39 of sitting one egg disappeared and both birds came to the back door and stayed there until we moved and disposed of the second egg. Shortly after the second failed attempt another pair arrived and chased the remaining female from the site with a cacophony of “yelling”. The new pair laid a clutch which have hatched and are now 4 weeks old. The other female laid an egg in the front garden and then abandoned it, she does however visit our front garden on occasion. We provide the birds with water and daily they drink, “swim” and stand in the water. Our journey with these delightful birds has been different each time they breed and we are truly lucky to have such magic happen in our garden.

  41. When we came to Cooktown 26 years ago from WA & PNG we were told they were “death birds” however have found this a most unfair discription. They are a wonderful addition to the aesthetic and auditory medium that we share.
    About 7 years ago we found a male on the front lawn with severe scratches on one leg, probably from a cat – he had lost blood and was very weak. We bandaged the leg and gave him water which immediatetly improved his disposition. He looked deeply into me with his large and intelligent eyes and mutual trust and respect was ensconced. He stayed with us and fed for a week before moving on, but has, with his mate, nested and had chicks in our front garden every year thereafter. Some survive, others don’t – that’s nature.

  42. I live on Macleay island Queensland and we have many Curlews .
    We’ve recently noticed we have a pair that have adopted our yard .
    I love their calls to each other during the night .
    Don’t plan to feed them as they look very healthy.
    Hopefully they will hatch some chicks .
    As we don’t have foxes on the island they stand a better chance of survival.

    1. Trying to get information on then rock bush curlu. Have a pair living for 15 years under my old cane cutters Barracks. They lay eggs regularly, hatch the chicks, who grow for 2 weeks, then disappear, never reaching adulthood. I am mystified. The parents come onto the back verandah (crap) and call. Love the sound. By now there should be flocks of birds, like the mobs on the local Golf Course. How long do the birds live for????

      1. The Curlew pair I have here go through the same process of eggs to chicks to vanished.
        I’ve lived here 16 years and they have only managed to raise one chick to adulthood.
        I’ve picked up flattened chicks on the [not busy] road outside my home but by far the most common reason for their disappearance here are the owls. Although there are some roaming cats about, I’ve seen the parent Curlews deal with them quite effectively.

  43. We live in West End, Brisbane next to Davies Park. Two curlews have been nesting in the park or nearby for the last 12 years that we know of. Over the last two years, dog owners have increasingly been using the soccer field area of Davies Park every day as an off-leash and dog exercise area; there’s sometimes up to 20 dogs running amok especially in the late afternoon. Some of the dog owners have found it funny when their dogs have chased the curlews and have told one of my neighbours to “f… off” when she expressed her concern. Apparently, on two separate occasions, baby curlews have had to be rescued by the RSPCA when they tried to find shelter from the dogs in a drain. We’ve tried contacting the Brisbane City Council on several occasions about the illegal use by dog owners of the park but nothing ever happens. We are quite concerned that the curlews will be killed/injured by the dogs. Is there anything else we can do?

  44. The Curlews living opposite me, nest within 4 feet of the roadway.
    It’s a horrible position, but they will not move anywhere else.
    They always have two chicks to begin with, but by three to four weeks, one disappears.
    The surviving chick, will later end up with a broken leg, run over or disappear as well.
    The parents are very obviously distressed with their loss. We cry too!
    But a few weeks later, they will have another two eggs to guard.
    Occasionally the parents are able to raise a chick to maturity.
    However, once that chick is almost as tall as the parents, they will chase it away.
    As the days go by, they will become very determined indeed, that the chick go its own way.
    Fortunately,we are only a block away from an area containing many curlews.
    The end to this story is that now the female parent has a broken leg! So sad!

  45. Early December 2019, I was driving from Mitchell to St George in Queensland and a couple of Bush Stone-Curlews crossed the road in front of my vehicle. They were quite large birds and at that stage I didn’t know what type of bird they were. They stopped in an area off to the side of the road and ‘froze’. I took some photographs while staying in the vehicle. I found them fascinating to watch in the ‘wild’.

    Another sighting, more recently [ April 2020 ] is of 4 birds [ much smaller than the ones mentioned above ] in a garden area at the local university campus [ Ipswich 4305 ]. They act like a family and stick close together moving ever so slowly if they walk at all – both of this sightings were in daylight hours.

  46. Hello,
    I live on Macleay Island and have done so for nearly 2 years. We have a large group of Curlews living around us, some in our yard as well. I designed our garden with logs and wood chips for the soul purpose to encourage Curlews. we feed them and have water dishes in about 5 different areas of the our yard.
    They drink from these all the time, bath in them and sit or stand in the water. So it’s not true that Curlews don’t drink water. We throw out bread for them morning and night but would like to know what else to give them instead of bread, but they do love it. So our mob are good here and we won’t tolerate cats in our yard at all. Cats shouldn’t be allowed on any of the Islands as they are predators and dogs aren’t allowed to roam. Anyone who has a problem with Curlews shouldn’t live here either. Rather harsh i suppose, but lets face it they are native to this country so they need to be cherished.

    1. Hi Robyn. Good on you for caring about your local Curlews and providing all your wild birds with fresh water. As you say, most birds will drink or sip water or simply bath in it if it is provided. Please try not to feed wildlife bread. It really isn’t good for them. Generally we recommending not feeding wildlife, unless it is a drought or they are stressed for other reasons – after cyclones or bushfires for example. If you do wish to feed Curlews, please do so infrequently (so they do not get used to a regular supply), make sure the area where you are feeding them is clean (i.e. move food placement around), so that there is less likelihood of disease occurring or being spread, and feed them something that would match their wild diet (such as mealworms). Here is a link to a website that talks about how to feed Magpies safely – it would roughly apply to Curlews as they too have a mainly insectivorous diet.

  47. The curlews in our yard only manage to raise one of a pair of chicks . So far, anyway. One chick is very obedient and stays close to the parents. We think that is a female. 😉
    The other chick wanders off and goes exploring on its own every chance it gets. We think that’s a male. 😉
    We keep a shallow dish of water for them outside and there’s often a curlew just standing in it when we go outside.
    I’m sure they feel protected here since I chase other birds off (ducks and crows).
    They hiss of we get close but haven’t been scared off. I think they’re used to our routines.

  48. We’re staying on North Stradbroke island. We were in Dunwich today and there was one hanging about the bakery on the side of the road at lunchtime! He was eyeing people up who were eating! Unusual behaviour for a nocturnal bird?

    1. Hi Sally. Yes, these stone-curlews often hang around the shops (especially bakeries!) at Dunwich and Point Lookout. Thanks for commenting.

  49. There is an AMAZING cluster at Windsor Park behind the Windsor Bowls Club. Can be heard from 6pm onwards every night…… always! The most majestic and haunting sound.
    Worth a listen, worth studying and protecting.

  50. I saw 2 adults today at Runaway Bay (Gold Coast) in a block opposite the Broadwater. First time I have seen them there. Think they are nesting next to the fence of a new home. They are amazing looking birds.

  51. I’ve had a Bush Stone Curlew nesting 2 eggs in my back yard in Townsville. The parents take turns nesting but mainly the mother nests the eggs. They have been there now for probably 8 or 9 weeks, never leaving the eggs for more than a minute or two. 2 days ago they stopped nesting the eggs and today are gone. I’m wondering if I should do something to help these eggs hatch or is it possible that they’ve realised the eggs haven’t fertilized and won’t hatch? Would they even survive if born with their parents gone? I’d like to help if at all possible. Do you have any feedback on this?

    1. Hi Gary. Its always upsetting to see a bird nest fail – but that’s nature. If the parents left the eggs intentionally (i.e. they were not chased away or disturbed), then it might be best to just let nature play out. Hopefully next season might be more successful.

  52. We have a solo bird in my street that I only see at night (for over 12mths now) ‘She’ is so cute but I worry she is lonely or perhaps keeps losing a mate. Gold Coast (Maudsland).

  53. Nice information about the curlews on this website! Thanks so much. Yesterday morning at around 6am I saw 5 curlews in Musgrave Park, South Brisbane, near the swimming pool on Edmondstone Street. So lovely to see them!

  54. I am in Darwin Northern Territory.
    I am so happy that I have found this curlew web site.
    I have seen curlew in open grassed areas of public parkland. In the middle of the day. There’s been 25 Curlew of various sizes waltzing around freely as I have my lunch on seating In the parkland. This seems to be contrary to most reports. They exhibited a group behaviour and did the same thing together like all moving to another location in the open parkland.
    Some larger birds waited for smaller ones before following the smaller one as it moved in the direction of the flock.
    I have seen The flock of Curlew in this open area Many times lately.
    There’s a couple in my yard who go in and out of a patch of very dense palm frond litter. They hiss at me as I approach my vehicle close to the Litter.
    The curlew call can be heard at night around my home. I have seen them in Rainy season, December to April and I don’t know where they go in the Dry Season.
    Love watching these enchanting regal birds.

  55. Has anyone had one try to come in their house? My parents did, last week a Curlew bird arrived in their backyard, and won’t leave, it appears very domesticated, it tries to come in the back door all the time, if not let in it stays at the door and sings to be let in. if you try ignore it, it goes around the side of the house to look in another window.(very disturbing to have this bird staring in at you… If you are outside it tends to follow you around, and they have a blue trolley, if you are pushing that around, it seems to get excited and follows around as if it’s expecting to be fed, almost like it recognises a feed trolley or something, it seems like it’s somewhat familiar with humans, not scared at all, even coming up within half a metre like it wants you to give it something.

  56. Hi
    I like to know how long the baby curlew stay with their parents
    Till few months or ???
    Thank you

    1. A quick Google search says that Bush Stone-curlew chicks can stay with their parents for 3-9 months before they are fully independent.

  57. 2 curlew eggs were laid today in my garden. What happens at night? Will the eggs be ok from predators?

    1. Hi Marg. Yes, the eggs will generally be fine. Please don’t touch or move them. The parents will be close by and will return. Enjoy!

  58. The last few nights here in Beerwah {4519} I have lay awake listening to a curfew of curlews. Too beautiful a sound to not stay awake.. Very early in the evening, then again around 1 a.m. for a good hour or more they were so vocal.. Unfortunately as it is private property behind us here in Beerwah, we are unable to sight these curlews during the day… An enormous thrill to hear so many of them chorusing the night sky last night..Moved here in December of 2020 and this month is only the second time we have heard their cries…

  59. We are building a house on our block and have a pair of Curlews nesting near the sole tree at the bottom corner.

    Do not wish to force them away. The builder is aware of them.

    Any tips please



  60. Ok. My curlews have appeared during the day and gathered egg-laying was happening. In the past, this has happened in more concealed but now near my washing line. Here’s hoping that they survive. I border on to a National Park but I keep my 6 Acres at Mount Chaalers clear of vegetation and the nest is easily seen.
    I realise they are wild animals but is this normal behaviour.

    They have eggs.

  61. A pair of Curlews have laid an egg in Bulimba Riverside Park on 7-09-21 and now on 11-08-21 seem to have abandoned the egg, they have not been near it all day although they are nearby in our front garden. Do you think they have abandoned the egg. I have sectioned off the area with stakes and tape as this is a very busy park, lots of dogs.

  62. Hi, I would like to know if it’s possible for chicks to hatch after a really long incubation period. We saw eggs laid in our yard on August 20 – that’s 38 days ago! The parents are both still here. Mum sits on nest all day in the sun, only getting up rarely to peck for food. Will they eventually give up and leave? Maybe she will leave due to hunger?
    What are everyone’s thoughts?

  63. We have a friend who has been adopted by a curlew. The curlew follows him around every where. If anyone gets close to him the curlew yells out. The curlew sleeps at night in the patio and is awake all day??
    The house owners do not feed the curlew and have no input into its life style. However it allows the male of the residence to pat him, pick him up and carry it back outside when it follows him into the house.
    They have a lot of video clips of the antics of the bird,

  64. Curlew nest in my apartment hatched this morning. I saw one parent drinking pooled rainwater, not sure if mother but I hope so. The nest was on the edge of driveway and when I found the hatchlings one was on road huddling with mother but other was still on wet concrete against curb on ant trail. I sat 2m near and inched closer whilst parents hissed, I had been putting myself closer to parents for over a month now. Once in arms reach I place first hatchling behind Bush and when moving second mom lunged but all went well. Checked since and they have kept off road for a couple of hours 🙂

  65. Hi am 11 I live in Cairns.

    One morning I saw a nest with 2 Eggs in it, and a mum sitting on them. She chased us away when we got too close. Dad was never far away.
    We watched them every day, and 27 days later there were 2 very cute chicks that hatched.

  66. Pair of Curlews and 2 chicks in Springfield area. In the landscaping next to a shopping centre carpark.

  67. I have Mum & Dad curlew in my backyard – I have purposely not mowed their portion of the yard and now have difficulty in even seeing if they are still sitting on their nest – The rains have now set in and I am concerned that they will be washed away – Any sugg3estions?

  68. I work out of a display home in Bahrs Scrub, QLD. The Brookhaven estate specifically.
    It’s the first time I have seen one in this area and it quite likes my front window and front door haha. When I walked up the driveway this morning, slowly and quietly towards the front door, it sat down. It has been here all morning, and looks to be taking a nap at the front door when I last looked. Tried to email some pics to the nominated email in the article but it bounced back.

  69. Just on your comment:
    “They obtain moisture from their food and do not need surface water for drinking.”
    We have a family of curlews as well as many other birds and we place water bowls around our property. The Curlews continue to drink from these water sources. I believe they always seek out water and will go there to drink when needed, which in our summer months is several times a day. Our Pheasants, Bush Turkeys and Kookaburras drink from the same water bowls.
    Our birds have been here since 2016 and have produced between 2-4 chicks per year. Generally 1-2 at a time. We live on the North East Coast of Australia.
    Thank you for sharing your knowledge of these wonderful birds.

  70. I saw one yesterday 14/6/22 in the middle of Surfers Paradise at 830 in the morning. It was standing beside the Legends Seafood restaurant on Surfers Paradise Blvd. I was shocked to see it there as I’ve only ever seen them in zoos. I should’ve taken a photo but a few people were doing that, so I walked on. I didn’t want to frighten it.

  71. We have a curlew that sits all day in front of our skylight been there a couple of months now just stands all day if it hunts for food at night when does it sleep, the skylight would be over 2 stories off the ground and I would think could get very hot. He is always alone. Strange behaviour? I live in Cairns

  72. I teach at Berrinba East State School in Logan and yesterday we suddenly had a curlew appear in our playground. He is sitting in the garden in quite a busy part of the school and I am concerned for his welfare. Is there anyone that could relocate him? I haven’t seen any here before.

  73. I’m the Catholic archbishop of Brisbane, living in New Farm in a big house called Wynberg with a big back yard (often used as a school playground or a car park). Earlier this year we had curlews nesting in the back yard where people are coming and going all the time…just near the back gate where cars are also coming and going. We were fascinated to watch them nesting for 28 days and delighted to see the new chicks. Then suddenly they disappeared. But now we have (we think) two other curlews who look as if they’re going to nest in the same spot. They may be the same ones, but if so there’s no sign of the chicks. All in all, a real buzz for Wynberg…

  74. After considerable exploration, two curlews have decided to nest in exactly the same spot in our backyard at Wynberg in New Farm, and the female has today laid one egg. We can’t agree on whether they’re the same pair as a while ago. The House Manager thinks they are (and that the two chicks didn’t survive) but I’m not convinced. They seem to me slightly darker in colour. Now for another 28 day wait for the hatching…a bit like Advent before Christmas..

  75. I’m pleased to announce that for the second time in about six months a pair of curlews has hatched two splendid chicks in our back garden at Wynberg in the last couple of days. In the house we can’t agree on whether it’s the same pair, even if the nest was in exactly the same spot. If they are the same pair, the first two chicks must not have survived. Let’s hope that the two new chicks survive and thrive.

  76. We currently have 11 curlews in our back yard; 1.5acre residential lot, about 20km from Brisbane GPO, surrounded by housing, with a gully at the back. This number has been constant for a few weeks now. We have had five to nine over some years, with chicks every year. But the current number seems astounding. (I know nothing about curlew family dynamics.)

  77. Ride my pushbike to work along the Kedron Brook bikeway. Coming home about 2AM past Toombul Shopping Town and a Curlew pair are out on the pathway with their two chicks. Adults just stood there as I rode past, but the young ones must have got a signal, dropped to the ground flat out and played ‘dead’. Wonderful to see.

  78. Hi. I have curlews sitting on eggs that have been laid for about 2 days. I fear that the council will run over the eggs when mowing. Can I move the eggs to a safer place just meters away in the bush. Regards, Steve

  79. The population on our small acreage in whitsundays has grown to 16 this year.

    Happy that they like it here as their home too.

    Had in 2022 Multiple nests vacated on one side of yard and moved 100m in another garden bed this breeding season.

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