Stone-Curlew

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.

Stone-Curlew Images

image coming soon Submit Image
Male
image coming soon Submit Image
Female
image coming soon Submit Image
Hatchling
image coming soon Submit Image
Nestling
image coming soon Submit Image
Chick
image coming soon Submit Image
Fledgling
image coming soon Submit Image
Juvenile

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