The phone rings – it’s Shannon.
“There’s a big bird standing outside my office door, it’s been there all morning, it’s freaking me out,” she said.
“What’s it doing?” I asked, to see if I could find more information on the status of the bird rather than Shannon’s clearly disturbed state.
“Nothing. Just standing and staring into the distance like it’s confused and doesn’t know what to do.”
“That doesn’t sound good.”
“No it’s not and I can’t go to the toilet, it might attack me!”
“OK, I’ll come down to rescue you.. hold on.” But really I came to check out the bird.
I remembered how, months before, there had been two large curlews walking as a pair in the car park near her office. I wondered why those crazy curlews didn’t go into the bush nearby, instead of running around the car park at night. A few weeks later I had found the answer. In one of the gardens behind her office was a small pair of eggs. The curlew stared at me like she was a stone statue, hoping her freeze pose would camouflage her and I’d disappear. She was guarding them, watching and waiting for her mate to return so they could swap over their parental egg watching duties. I didn’t stay long, knowing that if a nesting adult bush stone curlew is threatened it will pick up its eggs or chicks under its wings and run off with them to protect them from predators. I thought perhaps this is was a good place for the crazy curlew family. Perhaps it was safer here at night than in the bush, where several foxes had been seen stalking through the reserve nearby. The car park was busy enough during the day to scare off any unwanted predators and was well lit at night so there were plenty of insects in the garden.
So it wasn’t long before I arrived back at Shannon’s office. I checked to see if the eggs were still there – they were, but where was he? I wondered if perhaps the worst had happened, he’d been hit by a car and she’d lost her partner. A terrible thing to happen to any living creature, and if her mate was gone, how would she raise her family? I had a quick look around the car park and the other side of the road but found nothing. I made a call to the local RSPCA to see what advice they could provide. Apparently nothing could be done. Shannon’s curlew statue would probably disappear when it was ready. But I couldn’t help thinking that a curlew was missing and those eggs might never hatch with only one parent.
As it often goes with nature stories, we never knew what happened to the crazy Curlew.
But where we live I often hear those mournful cries and hope the chicks survive, so this particular family’s cycle of life hasn’t ended.
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