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Curlew Trackers
Newsletter Date

In This Issue
2014 Breeding Season
Counting Calls
Caught on Camera

Project Facebook Page


facebook.com/BushSton
ecurlews

Number 3 15 November 2014

Breeding Season is Well Underway!


The August start to the breeding season seemed to fizzle out a little, but
through late September Bush Stone-curlews have been incubating eggs, and
there are now lots of chicks and juvenile birds around.
The nest cameras I have had out seem to show that relatively few nest
failures are due to predation. Disturbance by people is more common.
Some people deliberately try to provoke a reaction from nesting birds.
Other people, who probably dont realise the consequences of their actions,
approach too closely, often with a dog in tow. This can be a disaster. Even
though most people are careful or even protective of their local birds, it only
takes one dog to destroy a nest or kill chicks.
But I have also found that in most places where curlews are nesting,
landowners are sympathetic, and when birds nest in public places, residents
look out for them. People often erect signs or barriers to prevent
pedestrians and contractors from accidentally trampling nests.

Curlews Calls
When the count is conducted, we will be broadcasting calls and counting the
number of birds that respond. This is a well-established technique for many
birds, and has been proven as a method for counting curlews. Some
refinements are probably needed for using this method in urban areas. In
order to test and refine the technique, ethical clearance is needed. This is
necessary because under some circumstances, repetitive broadcasting of
calls can disrupt breeding birds. So the method needs to be reviewed and, if
necessary, improved before it goes into the field. After this happens, I will
be asking some of the volunteers to help test the method. Get in touch if
you are interested. This will require a commitment of a couple of evenings.

Curlews On The Web


http://www.hbw.com/sp
ecies/bush-thick-kneeburhinus-grallarius
See a species description
with map

Nest Cameras
I have had about fifteen cameras on
nests so far this season. By the end of
the season I hope to have filmed twenty
nests. Its a lot of work, but the results
are fascinating and very enlightening.
If you know where a pair of birds are
nesting, please contact me as soon as
Fox in Chuwar taking curlew eggs.
possible. I am finding that many people
contact me after the chicks have hatched. Although all breeding records are
very useful, having a record of the process from start to finish is better still.
So, help me achieve my goal of twenty nests if you can. Contact me at
curlew.tracker@optusnet.com.au

Encyclopaedia of Life
http://eol.org/pages/10
49048/overview

Contact Curlews
Scott OKeeffe
M.S.OKeeffe@optusnet.c
om.au
Michael.okeeffe5@griffit
huni.edu.au
Curlew.tracker@optusne
t.com.au

These are Really Interesting Birds!


The nest cameras are showing us many new things about curlew behaviour.
There have been several instances of curlews nesting under buildings again
this season, although I have been unable to get cameras on the nests. In
some places, I have found that the birds are much more active during the
day than anticipated.
The animals that turn up
and provoke a response
from the curlews on their
eggs can be surprising. I
have film of curlews giving
distraction or threat
displays to Sugar Gliders,
Red-necked Wallabies,
Brush-tailed Possums,
White Ibis, Wood Ducks,
Carpet Pythons and
Bearded Dragons.

A pair of curlews defend the nest from a Bearded Dragon

Possibly the strangest thing I have seen is curlews deliberately adding


cigarette butts to their nest sites. This is unusual because curlews dont
usually make much of a nest, and mostly rely on what is already on the
ground. Ive seen this at two nest sites this season. In both cases, there
was a nearby supply of cigarette butts at smoking areas outside buildings.
But the nest sites themselves had no butts until curlews collected them and
placed them around the nest. This has been seen in some other perching
birds. A possible explanation is that some birds make use of the nicotine in
the butts to control parasites.

Chicks in Drains
This appears to be a significant cause of chick mortality. This project has
discovered that chicks are often lost in the same drains year after year,
since the curlews often nest in more or less the same place each season.
The good news is that Brisbane City Council have expressed some interest in
placing curlew-proof bunds around drains during the breeding season. If
you know of a site where this occurs, you might think about contacting your
council wildlife of natural areas section to see whether they might pick up on
this idea.