Species profile

Beach Stone-curlew

Beach Stone-curlew

Photo courtesy of Eric Sohn Joo Tan

Range and abundance

Beach Stone-curlews inhabit the coast of Australia and associated islands from north-west Western Australia to southern New South Wales. They are generally rare across their range. Beach Stone-curlews vacate beaches regularly disturbed by vehicles, people and dogs, and are now rarely observed on the beaches in New South Wales. This species also occurs along coastal habitats in Asia.

Description

Beach Stone-curlews have long legs, a relatively long neck, and a prominent thick bill which has yellow skin around the base. The upper body, forehead, crown and nape are grey-brown and the face is marked with black and white. The wings have distinct bands of black and white and the belly is grey to white. An adult bird about 55 cm long.

Ecology

Beach Stone-curlews inhabit open, preferably undisturbed beaches, reefs and estuarine mudflats. They are largely sedentary and usually live solitarily or in pairs. They often rest in the shade at high tide and then move out to exposed mud and sand-flats during low tide to feed. Birds breed from September to February, with nests located on sandbanks, coral ridges and sand dunes. Usually a single chick is reared and remains dependant on the parents for 7 to 12 months.

Threats

The Beach Stone-curlew is threatened on the mainland by residential and industrial development and by feral cats, dogs, pigs and cattle. Humans walking and driving vehicles on beaches can destroy eggs, cause birds to abandon their nests and can scare birds away permanently.  

What is AWC doing?

AWC protects the habitat of the Beach Stone-curlew on Pungalina – Seven Emu, on the shores of the Gulf of Carpentaria. AWC controls feral cattle and pigs which can trample (or eat, in the case of pigs) eggs and chicks and damage nesting and roosting sites.

Did you know:

The Beach Stone-curlew feeds almost exclusively on crabs, often utilising rocks to smash them open and sometimes washing them before swallowing.