Beach Stone-curlew - profile

Indicative distribution


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Key:
known
predicted
The areas shown in pink and/purple are the sub-regions where the species or community is known or predicted to occur. They may not occur thoughout the sub-region but may be restricted to certain areas. ( click here to see geographic restrictions). The information presented in this map is only indicative and may contain errors and omissions.
Scientific name: Esacus magnirostris
Conservation status in NSW: Critically Endangered
Commonwealth status: Not listed
Gazetted date: 31 Jul 2009
Profile last updated: 07 Sep 2017

Description

The Beach Stone-curlew is a large, heavy-set wader (up to 56 cm in body length, and with a wingspan of up to 1.1 m), with a large-headed appearance, emphasised by its massive bill, strong legs and a short tail. Adults have largely grey-brown upperparts with a distinctive black-and-white striped face and shoulder-patch. The throat and breast are a paler grey and the belly white. The wings are broad and long, mostly pale grey with dark leading and trailing edges to the innerwing and a boldly black-and-white outerwing. The eyes are yellow and there is a yellow patch at the base of the bill. Beach Stone-curlews are usually seen alone or in pairs, but sometimes occur in small groups of up to six birds. They are mainly active at dawn, dusk and at night, but birds are often seen when they shift or move about sedately during the day. Call at night, breeding birds give a harsh, wailing weer-loo call, which is slightly higher pitched and more shrill than that of the related Bush Stone-curlew Burhinus grallarius.

Distribution

In Australia, the Beach Stone-curlew occupies coastlines from about Point Cloates in Western Australia, across northern and north-eastern Australia south to north-eastern NSW, with occasional vagrants to south-eastern NSW and Victoria. In NSW, the species occurs regularly to about the Manning River, and the small population of north-eastern NSW is at the limit of the normal range of the species in Australia. Surveys in 2000 put the NSW popluation at a minimum of 13 adult birds. Outside Australia, the species also occurs in south-eastern Asia, from the Malay Peninsula through Indonesia and southern New Guinea, east to the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia.

Habitat and ecology

  • Beach Stone-curlews are found exclusively along the coast, on a wide range of beaches, islands, reefs and in estuaries, and may often be seen at the edges of or near mangroves. They forage in the intertidal zone of beaches and estuaries, on islands, flats, banks and spits of sand, mud, gravel or rock, and among mangroves. Beach Stone-curlews breed above the littoral zone, at the backs of beaches, or on sandbanks and islands, among low vegetation of grass, scattered shrubs or low trees; also among open mangroves.
  • Beach Stone-curlews are usually seen alone or in pairs, but sometimes occur in small groups. Birds forage by stalking slowly like a heron or with quicker dashes after prey.
  • The diet consists of crabs and other marine invertebrates.
  • They are mainly active at dawn, dusk and at night, but birds are often seen when they shift or move about sedately during the day. Less strictly nocturnal than the related Bush Stone-curlew (Burhinus grallarius).
  • In NSW, clutches have been recorded from early October to late March, but elsewhere in temperate Australia, breeding has been recorded from September. Their nests are just a shallow scrape in sand or gravel, above the tidal zone at the backs of beaches, or on sandbanks and islands or among open mangroves.
  • Only one egg is laid, but birds will re-lay after the failure of a breeding attempt. Both parents defend the nest and care for the young. The young are precocial but appear not to be independent until they are 7-12 months old.

Regional distribution and habitat

Click on a region below to view detailed distribution, habitat and vegetation information.


Threats

Recovery strategies

Activities to assist this species

Information sources

IBRA Bioregion IBRA Subregion Known or predicted Geographic restrictions region
NSW North CoastCoffs Coast and Escarpment Known within 2 km of coast
NSW North CoastKaruah Manning Known None
NSW North CoastMacleay Hastings Known within 2 km of coast
NSW North CoastYuraygir Known within 2 km of coast
OceanBatemans Shelf Known None
OceanHawkesbury Shelf Known None
OceanManning Shelf Known None
OceanSouth Pacific Ocean Predicted None
OceanTweed-Moreton Known None
OceanTwofold Shelf Known None
Ocean - Other StateNorthern Australian Coastal Waters Known None
Other StateJervis Bay Territory Predicted None
Other StateQLD Known None
South East CornerBateman Predicted None
South East CornerSouth East Coastal Ranges Known None
South Eastern QueenslandBurringbar-Conondale Ranges Known within 2 km of coast
South Eastern QueenslandClarence Lowlands Known within 2 km of coast
South Eastern QueenslandScenic Rim Known within 2 km of coast
South Eastern QueenslandSunshine Coast-Gold Coast Lowlands Known within 2 km of coast
Sydney BasinIllawarra Known None
Sydney BasinJervis Known None
Sydney BasinPittwater Known None
Sydney BasinSydney Cataract Predicted None