Curlew Project Achievements
NCWG ran a successful captive breeding program from 2000 to 2021 with breeding facilities at Moulamein, run by Peter Redfearn, and Jindera, run by Neville & Jan Lubke.
A total of 109 bush stone-curlew chicks were raised through the program, all of which were released through the captive breeding and release program, or were provided to zoos and fauna parks to increase genetic diversity in breeding programs.
The group released a total of 85 young bush stone-curlews over 8 releases at two locations in southern NSW from 2008 to 2017. The group conducted the first successful release of bush stone-curlews in Australia, and has been the driving force behind the establishment of numerous other similar programs across south eastern Australia.
The release method used a soft-release, with juvenile bush stone-curlews held in a group within an aviary at the release site for between 3 and 6 months prior to release. The intent was to mimic the juvenile 'flocking' behaviour seen in populations where bush stone-curlews are still common.
Released bush stone-curlews were monitored for up to 12 weeks after release using a combination of visual searching, call playback and radio-tracking. Radio-tracking was done on foot, as well as using aircraft for some releases. Infrared cameras were also set up at the release aviary to detect birds returning for food, which was provided until birds stopped returning.
A survey of the population at Moulamein and Buraja was commissisioned in 2016. This survey identified an established population of bush-stone curlews at Moulamein with 21 birds recorded during the survey. View a copy of the report from this survey HERE.
Only a small number of birds were located at Buraja, although evidence of breeding by a released bird was identified. Aerial radio tracking at this site indicated birds dispersed much further from the release location than at Moulamein. One bird even travelled 55 km back to Jindera where it was bred.
A banded bird identified at Moulamein in December 2016 was identified as a bird released in 2010.
Breeding of released bush stone-curlews has regularly been recorded at Moulamein since the releases, including multiple times within a predator proof fence.
Support for other releases
NCWG supported the following bush stone-curlew releases through providing captive-bred curlews, sourcing curlews from zoos and fauna parks, ensuring appropriate genetic management of released chicks, advice on release methods and monitoring, and transmitter attachment and banding assistance at release.
44 curlews released at Mulligans Flat, ACT
35 curlews released at Scotia, NSW/ Yookamurra, SA by Australian Wildlife Conservancy
9 curlews released at Lockwood by Mid Loddon Landcare Group
11 curlews provided to Mt Rothwell for breeding and future release
NCWG members, in particular Neville and Jan Lubke, have undertaken extensive community education programs on bush stone-curlew conservation throughout Australia.
This has included presentations and displays at:
Landcare group meetings
Catchment Management Authorities
Henty Machinery Field Days
Local Land Services events
Neville and Jan also undertook a range of regional talks across NSW during 2009 and 2010 as part of a NSW Envirofund grant project.
A wide range of education materials have been produced including stickers, brochures, flyers, postcards, posters, videos and community signage. The group's taxidermied bush stone-curlews, chicks and eggs have been popular at displays at field days and events.
Neville and Jan Lubke have hosted over 550 visitors at their Jindera captive breeding facility to talk about bush stone-curlew conservation and the captive breeding and release program.
Articles on bush stone-curlew conservation by the group have appeared in numrous magazines and newsletters including Birdlife's Wingspan, Burke's Backyard magazine and the Australian Wildlife Journal.
See the Curlew Education page to view some of the materials produced by the group.
Predator proof fencing
Nature Conservation Working Group, and the landholders participating in the captive breeding and release program sourced funding for a number of predator proof fences to support bush stone-curlew conservation, and the release program.
This included establishment of two predator proof enclosures at the two release sites, with soft release aviaries established within the sites.
In addition predator proof fences were funded at a number of other sites, including trials of different fence designs.
NCWG provided fox baiting incentives to landholders for 6 years at Moulamein and Buraja, to support the release of bush stone-curlews. This resulted in over 11,000 ha being baited for foxes at least twice a year, and produced a significant drop in fox numbers in particular at the Moulamein site.
NCWG also promoted the importance of fox control for curlews throughout the extensive community education program. This included inviting a talk by Animal Control Technologies to the 20xx Curlew Summit.
Transmitter attachment trials
Throughout the bush stone-curlew release program the group trialled a number of techniques to attach radio transmitters for monitoring bush stone-curlews once released.
This included trialling two backpack harness with weak link designs and two tail-mounted transmitter techniques using transmitters of different weights.
This trials resulted in the use of tail-mounted BD-2 transmitters from Holohil, weighing 3.7 g for the majority of releases. These transmitters lasted up to 11 weeks post-release. Although the smaller, tail mounted transmitters had reduced signal strength and detectability compared to the heavier backpack-mounted transmitters they had the smallest impact on the birds and so were chosen for this reason.
Awards and Grants
The group has received recognition for their work on bush stone-curlew conservation through:
Murray CMA Community Group Award finalist - 2009
Environmental Trust Dissemination Grant Recipient - 2009
NSW Fauna and Marine Parks Associate Conservation Grant Recipient - 2010
NSW Twitchathon Join Recipient - 2011
Murray CMA Community Group Award winner -2011
Wildlife Preservation Society Australian Community Widlife Conservation Award - 2012
Australasian Wildlife Managmenet Society (AWMS) Practitioners Award Runner up - 2013
NCWG would like to thank all the organisations and individuals that have supported our work since 2010.
NSW Environmental Trust
Murray Catchment Managment Authority / Local Land Services
NSW EHG (formerly Office of Environment & Heritage)
Animal Control Technologies Australia (ACTA)
Halls Gap Zoo
Mt Rothwell Sanctuary
Kyabram Fauna Park
Mid Loddon Landcare Group
Australian Reptile Park
Darling Downs Zoo
Oakvale Wildlife Park
Phillip Island Nature Park