Video. How this rare bird made its nest in the Dordogne

VShe is a strange and little-known bird, which has been making its nest for a few years in rare corners of New Aquitaine, particularly on the 7,000 hectares of the agricultural plateau of Faux/Issigeac, in the Dordogne (1). Even its name is weird: stone curlew.

To see it, you have to get up early, because it goes in search of food between dusk and dawn and remains rather quiet the rest of the day. On the other hand, he knows how to make himself heard very well, with his shrill cry, similar to a whistle.


Amandine Theillout, Lucie Bonnet and Yohan Charbonnier, from the LPO.

Loic Mazalrey

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VShe is a strange and little-known bird, which has been making its nest for a few years in rare corners of New Aquitaine, particularly on the 7,000 hectares of the agricultural plateau of Faux/Issigeac, in the Dordogne (1). Even its name is weird: stone curlew.

To see it, you have to get up early, because it goes in search of food between dusk and dawn and remains rather quiet the rest of the day. On the other hand, he knows how to make himself heard very well, with his shrill cry, similar to a whistle.

Amandine Theillout, Lucie Bonnet and Yohan Charbonnier, from the LPO.


Amandine Theillout, Lucie Bonnet and Yohan Charbonnier, from the LPO.

Loic Mazalrey

You have to keep your eyes open to see it in the meadows or the stony fields, with its mottled and striped plumage of brown, white and black, like camouflage. It is especially recognizable by its yellowness: its beak, its long shorebird legs and its large round eyes.

Camouflage

For the past two years, the branch of the League for the Protection of Birds (LPO) of the Dordogne has been leading a campaign to safeguard and identify this protected species which says a lot about the transformation of landscapes. Because it is thanks to the uprooting of the hedges, to enlarge the cultivated plots, that this bird has found favorable ground to settle. It has also replaced its cousin the little bustard, very present forty years ago and now extinct.

The hunt begins with observation with binoculars to spot the adults returning to the nest.


The hunt begins with observation with binoculars to spot the adults returning to the nest.

Loic Mazalrey

“It is a bird that lives in the great plains and nests in stony ground, explains Amandine Theilloux, head of the Dordogne branch of the LPO. Before laying eggs, it makes a bowl of pebbles on the ground and usually lays two eggs there. Until they are able to fly, the little ones are very vulnerable and rely on camouflage. »

But its presence says something else about the biodiversity of this territory. “It is a bird that feeds mainly on orthoptera such as grasshoppers or locusts. If it’s there, it’s because there are still insects, says Yohan Charbonnier, project manager at the LPO. Our goal is precisely to help farmers preserve this environment. »

Young people’s luggage

At the national level, serious indications suggest that the populations of stone curlews are in decline, particularly those recorded in Poitou-Charentes. A national program has therefore been launched to monitor their evolution, study the species in its environment and work to preserve it by working with farmers.

Lucie and Amandine look for young in the sunflowers to ring them.  They removed the witnesses which allowed the farmers to avoid the nest during the brooding.


Lucie and Amandine look for young in the sunflowers to ring them. They removed the witnesses which allowed the farmers to avoid the nest during the brooding.

Loic Mazalrey

In the Dordogne, the LPO has, for the first time this year, hired a trainee who is dedicated solely to edicnema within the framework of a program financed by the Department. Lucie Bonnet, on an end-of-studies internship as an agricultural engineer, does the job. His first main job: spotting pairs and their nests. This year, 13 were spotted on set.

Two stone curlew chicks were found cowering in the grass.  They are still too small to be banded.


Two stone curlew chicks were found cowering in the grass. They are still too small to be banded.

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It is especially recognizable by what it has in yellow: its beak, its long legs of a wader bird and its large round eyes.

This allows first to identify them and better understand their habits, but also to prevent agricultural machinery from crushing the eggs by marking the presence of nests. The goal is also to capture the young to take their biometric measurements (which say a lot about their state of health), before banding them when they are old enough (between twenty-five and thirty days), i.e. at the beginning of the ‘summer.

GPS tags

The luggage of the young and the installation of GPS beacons on a few adults will make it possible to know where this migratory bird spends the winter. We know that from the month of October, stone curlews congregate before setting sail for Spain or the Maghreb. But populations have been spotted wintering in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques.

The stone curlew lays two eggs on the ground, on a nest made of small pebbles.


The stone curlew lays two eggs on the ground, on a nest made of small pebbles.

illustration Chloé Dépré/LPO

Of the thirty pairs identified on the Faux/Issigeac plateau, two adults have been equipped with solar-powered GPS beacons. “It will allow us to spot them immediately upon their return and protect their nests,” predicts Yohan Charbonnier.

Adult stone curlew in a meadow on the Faux/Issigeac plateau.


Adult stone curlew in a meadow on the Faux/Issigeac plateau.

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In the future, the LPO plans to conduct ecotoxicological analyzes on birds to assess the impact of chemical treatments on populations.

(1) Another population breeds near Verteillac, in the northwest of the department, but is not monitored by the LPO.

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