The birds featured at the moment are...
From time to time, a different bird or group of birds, is featured on this page.
bird : Bush Stone Curlew
by Keith Stockwell
are two species of Stone Curlews in Australia, the Bush Stone Curlew
and Beach Stone Curlew.
Stone Curlew near Broome (K Stockwell)
featured bird in the February-March 2007 was the Bush Stone Curlew, (Burhinus grallarius). Larger than a Lapwing but smaller than
an Ibis, the Bush Stone Curlew is a shy, ground-dwelling bird which
is becoming increasingly uncommon in the southern Riverina and northern
Victoria. Bush Stone Curlews used to be found across much of Australia
in lowland, open woodland. They like areas with lots of fallen branches
for camouflage and leaf litter for foraging. hiding amongst fallen debris,
they keep still during the day and forage on insects, small reptiles,
amphibians, small fruits and seeds by night. During the day, they like
to have clear ground around the woody debris they are hiding in so that
they can see for a large distance in all directions.
Stone Curlew (by K Stockwell)
They are long-lived birds and many of the remaining ones in our area
may be about 30 years old. They nest on the ground.
The two main reasons
for its decline are habitat loss and predation by foxes, cats and dogs.
Very, very few young curlews survive into adulthood.
Fearing fire, many
landholders remove suitable woody debris. Sometimes well-meaning landholders
destroy their habitat by erecting fox-proof fencing around known breeding
areas and excluding kangaroos, cattle and sheep. But grazing animals
are important insofar as they keep the weeds and grass down, allowing
the curlews can see approaching prey. In areas where Curlews roost,
logs, sticks, leaves and fallen branches should be left on the ground.
Erecting a fox-proof fence should help baby curlews to survive but the
area within the fence needs to be grazed to keep grass short and sparse.
There used to be several curlews in the Echuca area but some of the
sites have been lost to housing estates and some landholders have removed
nearly all woody debris. only a few pairs now survive. A project is
underway to help save the Bush Stone Curlew in southern NSW. Funding
is available to landholders; contact NSW Dept of Conservation 1300 361
967 for details.
Researchers Eliza Tack and Andrew Carter provided the following information in a brochure for landholders and others:
Curlews are a member of the Burhinidae family which occurs all over the world, including Africa, Europe and Asia. Apart from the Bush Stone Curlew, the only other member of the family that lives in Australia is the Beach Stone-curlew, found along the coast of north-eastern Australia.
Other names for the Bush Stone-curlew include Bush Thick-knee and Willaroo—an Aboriginal name describing the curlew’s distinctive call.
Bush Stone-curlews feed on many different ground-dwelling animals including beetles, spiders, ants, lizards, frogs and even mice. They will also eat some grasses and other vegetation.
Both the male and female sit on eggs and may swap over regularly. Eggs hatch after about 25 days and the chicks are sometimes moved away from the nest and into thicker vegetation.
Young curlews can fly at about 9 weeks of age but may stay with their parents until the next breeding season begins.
bird : White-fronted Honeyeater
by Keith Stockwell
of the honeyeaters sometimes seen in our region is the White-fronted
Honeyeater. It was the featured bird in the October 2005 newsletter.
White-fronted Honeyeater has a white mask from its forehead to eye and
a blackish head. It is a bird of inland Australia. It is not found in
Tasmania, south or east of the Great Divide, in the south-west of WA
or in the north. There are cream feathers on the outer wing. The male
has a red spot 'behind' its eye and is darker than the female. Locally,
it is sometimes observed in the forests around Bendigo, along local
rivers or at Terricks. The bird to the left, well camouflaged in twigs,
was snapped by David Ong. Its voice is a metallic, scratchy 'pert-pertoo-peat',
'peter, pet, peet' or canary-like 'tweet' Most birds move north in
winter and south in winter. They also follow blossoms. When drought
becomes a red marauder inland, many may move into area in search of food.
White-fronted Honeyeater (Murray Chambers)
bird : Plains-wanderer
text by Keith Stockwell
of our endangered birds is the Plains-wanderer. Its habitat is native
grassland of a certain density. Unfortunately, almost all indigenous
grassland has been lost. One area where pockets of native grassland
remain is Terrick Terrick - Pine Grove, about 80km west of Echuca-Moama.
the grasslands of Terrick Terrick National Park, sheep are used as a
management tool to keep weeds at bay and to ensure that the grassland
is appropriate for the demanding requirements of the Plains-wanderer.
Without good management of the remaining native grasslands, the species
may become locally extinct. Parks Victoria has purchased several other
grassland paddocks in our area. Many of these grassland reserves are
listed in the parks section.
for Nature has also purchased suitable grassland paddocks. The Trust
also uses sheep in an attempt to maintain optimal conditions.
photographs of a female (left) and male (right) Plains Wanderer was
snapped by one of our members, David Ong.
bird : White-winged chough
text by Keith Stockwell
of the more-common birds in the box and wattle bushland near Echuca
is the White-winged Chough. Choughs resemble "crows" but have
white under their wings and make eerie calls which add atmosphere to
live in groups of about a dozen birds, groups usually being composed
of a mating pair plus their offspring. The younger birds are their parents'
"helpers" and help obtain food for the young. They also help
guard the nest, which is built of mud (e.g. in a box tree), from predators.
are communal birds and protect one another. Whilst kneeling down to
look at a fledgling that was on the ground, I was attacked from behind
by a "convey" of Choughs. They dealt heavy blows!
Echuca High, they scavenge together, digging in the sandhills reserve
before descending upon the High School's rubbish bins once students
have returned to the classroom after lunch.
Victoria Park (bushland reserve), little depressions can be seen where
the Choughs have dug after insects. Choughs seem to take a long time
to develop efficient feeding patterns. Young Choughs may dig fruitlessly
in one spot but the older birds are more discerning.
is an interesting article on Choughs in the Autumn 1997 edition of Australia
Nature, the magazine of the Australian Museum. The article describes
how young birds of one clan may be "poached" by a nearby flock.
A different bird is featured in most editions of the Branch's newsletter.
This page is based on articles from the Branch newsletter. As the newsletter is limited to 8 (or 10) pages, in some issues, a lack of space sometimes precludes