Scientific name: Burhinus oedicnemus

Did you know? Stone curlews, often called “goggle-eyed plovers” or “wailing heath chickens,” are remarkable for their striking yellow eyes, which help them hunt at night.

What Do Stone-Curlews Look Like? (how to identify them)

Stone-curlews, rare summer visitors to southern England and East Anglia, are easily recognisable. These crow-sized birds boast large heads, long wings and tails, and distinctly yellow legs

Their large yellow eyes are not just striking but functional, aiding in nocturnal foraging. Though they share a name with Curlews, they are not related, deriving their name from a similar call. 

Differences Between Male And Female Stone-Curlews

Interestingly, distinguishing between male and female Stone-curlews can be a bit challenging. Both sexes share a similar appearance, featuring buff, brown, cream, black, and white feathers. They also possess yellow legs and a beak that is a mix of yellow and black. 

Typically, both males and females measure around 40-44 cm in length and have a wingspan of 77-85 cm.

What Do Stone-Curlews Eat?

Stone-curlews are primarily insectivores, feasting on a variety of invertebrates found on the ground. Their diet is not just limited to insects; larger species may also consume lizards and small mammals. Their foraging habits are primarily nocturnal, utilising their large eyes to locate food in low light conditions.

Where Do Stone-Curlews Live? (inc. migration info)

Stone-curlews favour habitats like farmland, heathland, and grassland. In the UK, these birds are mainly found in East Anglia and southern England, where they are seen as a symbol of the region’s natural heritage. They are migratory birds, spending summers in Europe and their winters in Africa. 

The Eurasian stone-curlew, in particular, is known for its migration habits, showcasing a fascinating aspect of their behaviour.

Bird Calls & Songs (the unique voices of Stone-Curlews)

Stone-curlews are known for their loud, wailing songs, especially at night, which resemble the calls of true curlews. These vocalisations play a crucial role in their nocturnal activities, making their presence known in the still of the night.

Fun Stone-Curlew Facts (kid friendly)

  • Stone-curlews can be hard to spot due to their sand-coloured plumage that blends seamlessly with their habitat.
  • Stone-curlews have a unique diet, primarily feeding on ground-dwelling invertebrates.
  • The population of Stone-curlews in the UK once declined dramatically but has been recovering thanks to conservation efforts.
  • They have a distinctive call, reminiscent of true curlews, despite not being closely related.
  • Stone-curlews nest on the ground and rely on their excellent camouflage to protect their nests.
  • They are protected under various conservation acts due to their unique status in the UK’s biodiversity.
  • These birds are excellent examples of species adapting to nocturnal life, with their large eyes being a key feature.

Facts About The Stone-Curlew

Diet: Invertebrates that are found on the ground.
Bird Family: Thick-knees
Length: 40-44cm
Wingspan: 77-85cm
Weight: 430-500g
Scientific Name: Burhinus oedicnemus

The Stone-Curlew Can Be Seen In The UK During The Following Months

  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October

Stone-Curlew Images

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