Burhinus oedicnemus (Stone curlew / Kocagöz)

Burhinus oedicnemus (Stone curlew / Kocagöz)

Burhinus oedicnemus (Stone curlew / Kocagöz) from Homa Dalyanı, Sasali, İzmir - 10.06.2011.

The specific name Oedicnemus derives from the Greek for 'swollen shinned', the stone curlew (Burhinus oedicnemus) is also known as 'thick knees' due to their large heavy looking legs; other local names include 'Norfolk plover' and 'Goggle eyes'. Stone curlews have streaky sandy- brown plumage that provides excellent camouflage against sandy soils during the day when they are mainly inactive. In flight, narrow black and white bars on the long wings are visible. They have long yellow legs, a short yellow bill with a black tip and large eyes. The species is not related to the curlew; the common name comes from the stone curlew's repeated 'kur-lee' call.

This species has a discontinuous breeding range in Europe, extending from southern Britain (the north-western extreme of the range) east to southern Russia and south to Spain, southern Italy, the Balkans and the Caucasus in Russia. The stone curlew over-winters in Spain, North Africa and the southern extreme of the Sahara. In the UK, stone curlews were formerly widespread up into the Cotswolds, Yorkshire and the East Midlands. They are now found mainly in Brecklands and Wessex, with a few pairs elsewhere in East Anglia.

The stone curlew breeds on semi-natural grassland, chalk downland, grass heaths, and on agricultural land. It is associated with free-draining stony soils, and nesting occurs on stony ground, particularly with short or patchy vegetation. On semi-natural grassland grazing by sheep and rabbits can provide a short sward suitable for stone curlews to breed.

Stone curlews hunt at night. Their diet consists of invertebrates such as beetles, woodlice and earthworms, as well as the occasional small mammal or bird, all of which are taken from the soil surface. They return to England from the over-wintering grounds in March, and pairs, which may be life-long, return to traditional nesting sites. The nest is a scrape on the ground in which two eggs are laid. Eggs and juveniles are cryptically coloured to provide camouflage against the stony substrate. The chicks improve this camouflage by their habit of freezing flattened against the ground when disturbed or threatened. If chicks or eggs are lost the pair may produce a second brood.

References: 1. ARKive, 2. WiKiPeDia.