Stone curlews have a strangely haunting look. Their wide open yellow eyes and crouched stance add to the effect of their wailing cry. Keeping a low profile is what the stone curlew does best. When confronted with danger these birds either scurry away to cover, or freeze on the spot hoping to blend into the background. Their courtship display is also a rather understated affair. Though rarely seen in Britain, stone curlews do migrate to parts of Wiltshire and Norfolk for the summer, spending the winter in the warmer climes of southern France, Spain or Africa.
Scientific name: Burhinus oedicnemus
Eurasian stone curlew
Species range provided by WWF's Wildfinder.
The following habitats are found across the Stone curlew distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.
Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.
Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web
Year assessed: 2009
Classified by: IUCN 3.1
The Stone Curlew, Eurasian Thick-knee, or Eurasian Stone-curlew (Burhinus oedicnemus) is a northern species of the Burhinidae (stone-curlew) bird family.
It is a fairly large wader though is mid-sized by the standards of its family. Length ranges from 38 to 46 cm (15 to 18 in), wingspan from 76 to 88 cm (30 to 35 in) and weight from 290 to 535 g (10 to 18.9 oz). with a strong yellow and black beak, large yellow eyes (which give it a "reptilian", or "goggle-eyed" appearance), and cryptic plumage. The bird is striking in flight, with black and white wing markings.
Despite being classed as a wader, this species prefers dry open habitats with some bare ground. It is largely nocturnal, particularly when singing its loud wailing songs, which are reminiscent of that of curlews. Food consists of insects and other small invertebrates, and occasionally small reptiles, frogs and rodents. It lays 2-3 eggs in a narrow scrape in the ground.
The stone curlew occurs throughout Europe, north Africa and southwestern Asia. It is a summer migrant in the more temperate European and Asian parts of its range, wintering in Africa.
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