15. Bush stone-curlew
Until just three years ago, the bush stone-curlew was last seen in Canberra in the 1970s. These long-legged birds were once widespread in suitable habitats across Australia, but numbers have drastically declined in many places due to habitat loss and predation by foxes. In 2014, bush stone-curlews returned to the Canberra region as part of a reintroduction program at Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary.
Also known as the bush thick-knee, bush stone-curlews are ground-dwelling birds best-known for their unnerving wailing call heard at night. They are mostly a dull brown on their back, streaked with black and varying shades of brown. Their underparts are off-white with dark streaks, and they have large yellow eyes framed by a white eyebrow.
Bush stone-curlews are nocturnal, foraging for a range of insects, seeds, lizards and molluscs at night. During breeding season, they perform an elaborate courtship ritual. Birds stretch out their wings, fan up their tails and extend their necks forward, stamping their feet as if marching, and screaming continuously. This rhythmic boogie/karaoke sesh can continue for up to an hour at a time.
Call: eerie high-pitched ‘weeerr-loooo’, often heard at dusk
Where to spot them: Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary