Hear the Cry of the Bush Stone-curlew


The Bush Stone-curlew (Burhinus grallarius) is a mainly nocturnal, ground dwelling bird that specialises in hunting frogs, spiders, insects, molluscs, crustaceans, snakes, lizards and small mammals. Also known as the Bush Thick Knees, it has a distinct eerie, ghost like night time call. During the day, bush stone-curlews tend to remain inactive, sheltering amongst tall grass or low shrubs and relying on their cryptic plumage to protect them from predators.

When disturbed, they freeze motionless, often in odd-looking postures. For visual predators like raptors and humans this works well, but it serves little purpose with animals that hunt by scent such as foxes or wild dogs.

They are more well known in other Australian states than in Victoria where it has suffered a dramatic decline due to predation.

The Project

The Project:
This Project aims to bring back the Bush Stone-curlew to Victoria, where due to predation by red foxes, a significant decline in the population of the birds occurred in the 1980’s and 1990’s.

The establishment of this strategic captive breeding programs is now critical for the future of of the Bush Stone-curlew in Victoria. We are supporting the construction of new captive breeding enclosures at Mt Rothwell Biodiversity that will support genetically diverse breeding pairs of Bush Stone-curlew to supply future reintroductions to the wild. This important project and may be the best change for the survival of the Bush Stone-curlew in Victoria.

Feral proof enclosures have proven to be successful in providing a safeguard for endangered species and in providing a transition between captive breeding and wild releases. The project will establish a a captive breeding population of Bush Stone-curlew at the Mt Rothwell Biodiversity and Interpretative Centre, a 473-hectare feral predator-free ecosystem located 50 km west of Melbourne in Victoria, which can supply the Orana Sanctuary and other sites with founding animals for reintroductions.

To achieve this, they will build and adapt breeding enclosures at their primary intensive breeding site at Mt Rothwell. This will involve acquiring new furnishings and large slide doors for introductions and isolations. Twenty enclosures will be modified to make them suitable to establish a captive breeding facility that will support ten breeding pairs at Mt Rothwell to enable future reintroductions to the wild and Orana Park.

This important project and may be the best change for the survival of the Bush Stone-curlew in Victoria.

The project will;

  • acquire ten breeding pairs of Bush Stone-curlew,
  • recruit and train husbandry staff and volunteers will be recruited and trained to undertake requirements (water troughs/bowls, food, shelter and to undertake quarterly surveys),
  • maintain and monitor the Mt Rothwell fence,
  • continue to control pests and support releases at Mt Rothwell on an ongoing basis,
  • reporting back to FAME and its supporters,

The project will be implemented at Mt Rothwell Biodiversity and Interpretative Centre, a 473-hectare feral predator-free ecosystem located 50 km west of Melbourne. This project will also assist other endangered species at Mt Rothwell Biodiversity and Interpretative Centre including Eastern Quoll and Eastern Barred Bandicoot through ongoing control of predators.

Urgency and action:
The Bush Stone-curlew is listed as Endangered in Victoria and is declining dramatically. It is a bird species most at risk of extinction. The iconic species is considered the most risk of decline in Victoria and historical records show a 50% decline within only 10 years. This trend is incredibly concerning as resources are incredibly limited to reverse these dramatic declining trajectories.

This project will commence immediately upon funding being secured.

Mt Rothwell’s overarching non-profit organisation Odonata will implement this project.

Odonata will work with researchers from Australian National University and Melbourne University who will oversee the project and provide technical support. Odonata will also involve Mt Rothwell Landcare Volunteers, Wetlands and Woodlands Trust and Mulligans Flat.


  • 9 OCTOBER 2019; Egg-citing news from the Bush Stone-curlew project. Read more: project update.
  • 25 OCTOBER 2019; Bush Stone-curlew parents-to-be captured on video! Read more: project update.
  • 14 NOVEMBER 2019; George and Freckle not ready to be parents yet. Read more: project update.
  • 21 DECEMBER 2019; Congratulations George and Freckle! Read more: project update.
  • 18 JUNE 2020; Name our twins! Read more: project update.
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