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Cold spring weather affects Stone Curlews in the UK

The bodies of eight Stone Curlews have been found in fields in Norfolk, Suffolk and Wiltshire in the past few days. Stone Curlews are one of the UK's most threatened birds. The birds are believed to have returned from their wintering grounds in Africa and Spain and struggled to find enough food to survive. The bodies weighed around 300g, compared to a healthy weight of 450g.

This follows the deaths of hundreds of Puffins and other seabirds off the coast of Scotland and northeast England two weeks ago as a result of continuous freezing conditions and stormy seas making it hard to find food. Elsewhere there have been reports of Short-eared Owls and Barn Owls found dead after cold weather hampered their ability to hunt.


Eurasian Stone-curlew - Burhinus oedicnemus


Eurasian Stone-curlew - Burhinus oedicnemus - is a northern species of the Burhinidae bird family. The Stone-curlews, also known as Thick-knees, consist of nine species and are found throughout the tropical and temperate parts of the world. The Eurasian 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.


It is a fairly large bird though it is mid-sized by the standards of its family. They have a strong yellow and black beak, large yellow eyes and cryptic plumage. The bird is striking in flight, with black and white wing markings.


Eurasian Stone-curlews have a complex and relatively wide vocal repertoire composed of at least 11 different call types which include a loud melodious kur-lee and a plaintive tlueeEE.


Food consists of insects and other small invertebrates. It will also take small reptiles and rodents.


It lays 2-3 eggs in a narrow scrape in the ground.

Conservation Status – Least Concern

This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion. The overall population trend is decreasing, although some populations have unknown trends (Wetlands International 2006), and in Europe, trends since 1996 show that populations have undergone a moderate increase. Major declines in the UK.


Ask Aves Birding Tours create a custom tour for you to see these birds.



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