Eurasian Stone-curlew

Eurasian Stone-curlew

The Stone Curlew or Eurasian Stone-curlew Burhinus oedicnemus is a northern species of the Burhinidae (stone-curlew) bird family.


It is a medium-sized wader with a strong yellow and black beak, large yellow eyes (which give it a “reptilian”, or “goggle-eyed” appearance), and cryptic plumage.

Burhinus oedicnemus
Eurasian Stone-curlew Chick (Burhinus oedicnemus)

The scientific name refers to the prominent joints in the long yellow or greenish legs. The bird is striking in flight, with black and white wing markings.

It is largely nocturnal, particularly when singing its loud wailing songs, which are reminiscent of that of curlews (possibly the cause of the name).

Stone Curlews

Distribution / Range

The 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.

Despite being classed as a wader, this species has a preference for dry open habitats with some bare ground.

Diet / Feeding

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

Breeding / Nesting

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

Song / Vocalizations

In Egypt, the melodic song of the stone curlew is often heard at night, although the bird is almost never seen. Its song is featured in poetry, songs, and movies, such as Song of the Stone Curlew.

Stone Curlews in fligbht


There are six subspecies of Burhinus oedicnemus:

  • Burhinus oedicnemus distinctus (Bannerman, 1914) Canary Islands central and western
  • Burhinus oedicnemus harterti Vaurie, 1963
  • Burhinus oedicnemus indicus (Salvadori, 1865)
  • Burhinus oedicnemus insularum (Sassi, 1908) Canary Islands, eastern
  • Burhinus oedicnemus oedicnemus (Linnaeus, 1758)
  • Burhinus oedicnemus saharae (Reichenow, 1894)
Indian Stone Curlew
Photo of author

Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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