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Curlew Trackers

30 August 2014

In This Issue
First nest for this
season!
Curlew Count
Breeding Season
Searching For Curlews

Volume 2

This Seasons First Nest


On 13 August curlews at Capalaba laid two eggs. This is quite early, especially
considering the dry weather and early cold snap. Unfortunately something took the
eggs and by the next day the birds had also disappeared. Curlews often hide after a
nest is destroyed, or the eggs or young are taken. If the adults are not injured they
will often return. If it is still early in the season, they may lay another clutch. Ill be
watching this site. Please contact me if you know the location of a nest!

Curlew Summit

More Info And Contacts


facebook.com/BushSton
ecurlews

Curlew Count
Information Brochure:
http://www.scribd.com/
doc/236672445/BushStone-curlew-Survey

Curlews On The Web


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

Volunteers Still Needed for the Curlew Count!


Our objective with this project is to find out where curlews live and what habitats
they prefer. Essential information for their conservation.
When we do the survey, were looking for where they are and where they arent.
There will be more places that dont have curlews, and we want to know about these
too.
Curlews respond strongly to broadcasts of their calls. So counting curlews can be
done from the road verge by broadcasting calls and counting the responses. Its a
proven method that does not require too much equipment. Curlew calls are easy to
recognise and the birds call strongly, so no special expertise is needed to help count
birds.
The count is scheduled to take place between May and July 2015. To make this
happen, we need volunteers to register their interest as soon as they can.
Volunteers will work in teams of two or three in the early evenings. Calls will be
broadcast for a short period, and the responses counted. I need people to sign up
for at least five evening of work (more preferably, since there are as many as 900
survey points). If you want to participate, I need to know what part of greater
Brisbane you can work in (NE;NW;SE;SW) and which evenings you are likely to be
available. Griffith University will supply equipment and I will provide instruction.
Follow this link for more information: http://www.scribd.com/doc/236672445/BushStone-curlew-Survey
Only citizen scientists can make this project happen. Since support for ecological
research is hard to come by, and getting harder, the responsibility for this work now
lies with me and any volunteers who sign on. So if you can assist, or you want to
know more, you can contact me by email or phone as shown on the side bar.

Curlews Nesting- What


to Look For
Curlews nest (if you can call them
that) on the ground. The eggs are laid
straight onto the surface, often on a bed
of leaves, sticks or gravel. Nesting on
the ground makes curlews vulnerable to
predators, so they avoid drawing
attention to themselves. The eggs are
speckled and blend with the background
remarkably well. The adults have
cryptic plumage that also helps them to
merge into their surroundings. The
incubating bird remains very still, and if

A curlew sitting on eggs laid on gravel mulch.


Taken at Victoria Point.

For information, to report


nests or sightings, and to
volunteer with the curlew
count

Contact Curlews
Scott OKeeffe
M.S.OKeeffe@optusnet.c
om.au
Michael.okeeffe5@griffit
huni.edu.au

there is any sign of a disturbance, it prostrates itself, disappearing into the


background. The bird that is not on the nest is usually nearby, standing, squatting or
sitting quietly, and also trying to remain inconspicuous. However, if the nest is
threatened, the bird not on the eggs will often rush at the intruder, hissing or
growling and raising its wings and tail in a spectacular threat display. This is, of
course intended to distract intruders or predators. The bird will sometimes run a
short distance and squat on the ground as if it is sitting on a nest. As the intruder
follows, the bird jumps up, runs a short distance and repeats the fake nest display.
If an intruder comes too close to the nest, both birds may growl and hiss, rushing
at the intruder and spreading wings and tail in threat.
If you are looking for nests, the behaviour of the birds is the key. Watch for birds
in pairs at this time of the year. They are very territorial. They will call and drive
other curlews away. If you observe a bird repeatedly squatting in the same position
on the ground, it may well be incubating eggs. Although they seem to tolerate
some close approaches, it is better to keep the birds under observation from a
distance of at least 5 metres to confirm nesting and make observations. Remember
that some predators are attracted to human scent (foxes for example) which they
may associate with food. If you approach closely too often, you could possibly lead a
predator to the eggs or chicks. When the birds swap incubation duties, you should be
able to see any eggs present. Look carefully, they are not always easy to see. Keep
your camera handy- these birds are very photogenic and easy to photograph

The Breeding Season


In southeast Queensland, Curlews are suddenly showing signs that they are
preparing to breed. Birds are pairing, and moving to the vicinity of their
customary nest sites. They are starting to call more so it wont be long.
In southeast Queensland curlews can breed anytime between mid-August
and January, with most breeding occurring between September and
November.
The usual clutch size is two, but only one is sometimes laid, and
infrequently a clutch contains three eggs. Curlews may lay more than one
clutch in a season, particularly if an early clutch is disturbed or fails for some
other reason.
Eggs hatch after about 27 days of incubation, and second or third eggs
usually hatch within 24 hours of the first egg.
The chicks are downy and blend well with their environment. For some
time after hatching they spend much of their time concealed under a parents
wings or body. Like the adults, they freeze and lie flat when danger
threatens. Although the chicks are active and develop quite rapidly, they
are quite clumsy for the first few days. This makes them vulnerable to
predators and accidents such as trampling or falling into drains. It seems
common for one of the chicks to be much stronger, and weaker chicks often
disappear within a short time of hatching.

Curlew Summit
Murray Local Land Services, with support from the Commonwealth and
NSW governments the third national Curlew Summit was held on the 20th
and 21st of August. It brought together experts in curlew behaviour, ecology
and captive breeding together to share information. Since curlews are not
well studied, it was important to bring together all the available knowledge,
share it, and decide what else we need to know to work for conservation of
these birds. In the next newsletter, I will provide a summary of the
proceedings.