I’ve been doing a lot of work late at night recently. Once TJ is in bed the TV is off so the house is quiet. That means I get to write to the sound of the screaming woman birds down by the creek.

If you have never lived in the right part of Australia you have never heard the call of the Bush Stone-Curlew. It doesn’t take much imagination to turn the bird’s cry into a woman’s scream.

The first time I heard one I was in my teens at my best friend’s house. Her property backed onto a swamp. While camping I heard a shriek and my friend laughed at my panic, telling me it was just a screaming woman bird. I honestly believed that was its legitimate name until I moved into my current house and heard the call again.

With a good ear you can distinguish the bush stone-curlew from a woman in distress, but at midnight when that haunting cry wafts through your window from the bush beyond your backyard you can’t help but wonder…