Saturday, May 5, 2012

Curlews - What an experience!

Bush Stone Curlews are the most fascinating local birds here for me.  They resemble a smaller version of a stilted bird--cross between ostrich or emu, but with colouring that helps them to blend into the countryside and their protection. They are land dwellers and often mate for life.  There is a couple of them in our local neighbourhood that were protecting their nest around Christmas time, and even moved the infant to a safer position after it was born.  As a result, I drive so carefully through our quiet neighbourhood, trying to catch a glimpse of them when and if possible.

Well, about a week ago Chris and I were very surprised by our early morning visitor! 

At about 7:00 am Chris looked out from our bedroom deck and noticed a Bush Stone Curlew standing at our front door.  He came downstairs to have a closer look through one of our media room windows and was fascinated!  I was in my study at the time, and he came in and just asked me follow him, as he had something to show me.  And as we peered through that media room window only about  two metres away from her, I couldn't believe my eyes! There she stood! Completely on her own, seemingly calm and wanting to rest, as they are night birds, and eventually she just settled on our front door mat. I was amazed as I watched her calmly settle into place, and start to seek sleep.
I watched her, fascinated off and on for quite some time, then finally gave in and went back to bed, to try to catch a little more sleep, as I am still only sleeping a few hours at a time.  When I woke up a short time later, I looked out from our bedroom window, and she was still laying there on our front door mat! 
As the day progressed, Chris opened the front door slowly and quietly, and she stood up and approached him out of innocent curiosity. She was proving to be more and more fascinating!  She just was not phased at our curiosity with her, and I got the feeling that she felt completely natural in our environment and didn't show fear at all. She was very curious, just as were we . She just decided that she was safe, and decided to stay with us for that morning. 

As the day progressed, I quietly opened our front door slowly and in a non- threatening manner.  She had previously stood up from her nap in our protected front door area, and was beginning to wander a bit from the doorway.  As soon as I opened the door, and quietly spoke to her, she started to approach me and came up to the screen door, as if to say: "Are you inviting me inside?"  I really wanted to..but knew I shouldn't so I just talked to her for while.  She stood with her beak pressed against the screen door, then gradually just layed down on the door mat again.  I invited her to stay, and quietly closed the front door.

About an hour later, I noticed that she was gone from that area and had wondered around to our side lawn area, just outside of our pool area.  While I had enjoyed taking photos of her, I was afraid that my camera reflection and noise through the family room windows could startle her, so I just observed.  She eventually worked out that she could squeeze through the pool fence and settled into the pool courtyard area.  For the rest of the day she decided to relax in that area.  It was such a fascinating experience to have her with us.

As the afternoon progressed, we discovered that when Chris entered the pool area, she did not appear to be aggravated, just more curious.  After some time, he was able to hand feed some small scraps of food, which she took willingly from his out-stretched palm, and was even allowed to gently stroke her back as she approached him.  It was so amazing to watch this wild bird interact with us.

Meanwhile, Strap, our border collie, was not impressed.  His jealousy at the attention she was getting, began to become obvious, and as night-time and early dark began to roll in, our visitor for the day started to think that going through the pool fence possibly into his area in the back of the house and the natural grassland up on our hill, might be a good idea.  I was worried about Strap attacking her though, and asked Chris to try to do something.

He quietly entered the pool area again, as he had done earlier in the day, with Strap watching very closely from the closed gateway area.  He gently walked up to the curlew and persuaded her to walk through the open gateway towards our front garden area, into a perhaps more protected area, outside of Strap's jealously quarded area.  She followed him through the open gateway and wondered around eventually to the front door area and her door mat.

We hoped she was going to stay with us, and left her alone.  But after leaving her alone there, she eventually disapperared when we checked on her later during the evening.

We haven't seen her since.  I still drive carefully through our quiet neighbourhood and hope each morning that she may surprise us with a visit.  But we haven't seen her since that day.  I like to think that she found her family, from whom she may have wondered away.  I still hear them call out during the night and early morning hours, with their haunting call.  What a great experience it was to have the shared the day with her!

Soundlip of the bush stone curlew's  plaintive cry:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love the blog. Curlews are very interesting. A lovely description.