Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Pied Currawong

The Australia bird this week is the
Pied Currawong -Strepera graculina.
I photographed this bird when my Australia daughter and family were at a Church camp in the north of Queensland. I don't have many photographs so I have added some shots which will give you an idea of the surrounding area and I will also give you information throughout the photos.  You will see a photograph of a waggon is where my grandson slept.

The Pied Currawong is a medium-sized black passerine bird native to eastern Australia and Lord Howe Island. One of three Currawong species in the genus Strepera, it is closely related to the Butcherbirds and Australian Magpie of the family Artamidae.
Six subspecies are recognised.  The male and female are similar in appearance.  Known for its melodious calls, the species' name currawong is believed to be of indigenous origin.

The Pied Currawong is generally a black bird with white in the wing, under tail coverts, the base of the tail and most visibly, the tip of the tail. It has yellow eyes. Adult birds are 17–19 ins in length, with an average of around 19 ins; the wingspan varies from 22–31 ins.  Adult males average around 11 ozs, females 10 ozs. The wings are long and broad. The long and heavy bill is about one and a half times as long as the head and is hooked at the end.  
Juvenile birds have similar markings to adults but have softer and brownish plumage overall, although the white band on the tail is narrower. The upper parts are darker brown with scallops and streaks over the head and neck, and the underparts lighter brown. The eyes are dark brown and the bill dark with a yellow tip. The gape is a prominent yellow.  Older birds grow darker until adult plumage is achieved, but juvenile tail markings only change to adult late in development.   Birds appear to moult once a year in late summer after breeding.

Pied Currawongs are generally tree-dwelling, hunting and foraging some metres above the ground, and thus able to share territory with the ground-foraging Australian Magpie.  Birds roost in forested areas or large trees at night, disperse to forage in the early morning and return in the late afternoon. 

Although often solitary or encountered in small groups, the species may form larger flocks of fifty or more birds in autumn and winter. On the ground, a Pied Currawong hops or struts.
During the breeding season, Pied Currawongs will pair up and become territorial, defending both nesting and feeding areas. They vigorously drive off threats such as ravens, and engage in bill-snapping, dive-bombing and aerial pursuit. They adopt a specific threat display against other Currawongs by lowering the head so the head and body are parallel to the ground and pointing the beak out forward, often directly at the intruder.  The male predominates in threat displays and territorial defence, and guards the female closely as she builds the nest.

Flocks of birds appear to engage in play; one routine involves a bird perching atop a tall tree, pole or spire, and others swooping, tumbling or diving and attempting to dislodge it. A successful challenger is then challenged in its turn by other birds in the flock.
The Pied Currawong bathes by wading into water up to 6 ins deep, squatting down, ducking its head under, and shaking its wings. It preens its plumage afterwards, sometimes applying mud or soil first. The species has also been observed anting.


The Pied Currawong is an omnivorous and opportunistic feeder, eating fruit and berries as well as preying on many invertebrates, and smaller vertebrates, mostly juvenile birds and bird eggs. Currawongs will hunt in trees, snatching birds and eggs from nests, as well as insects and berries from trees. They also hunt in the air and on the ground.  
Insects predominate in the diet during summer months, and fruit during the winter. They will often scavenge, eating scraps and rubbish and can be quite bold when seeking food from people, lingering around picnic areas and bird-feeding trays.  Beetles and ants are the most common types of insects consumed.
Pied Currawongs have been recorded taking mice, as well as chickens and turkeys from farms.  They consumes fruit, including a wide variety of figs, other fruit is also sought after, and currawongs have been known to raid orchards, eating apples, pears, strawberries, grapes, stone fruit, citrus, and corn.  

Birds forage singly or in pairs in summer, and more often in larger flocks in autumn and winter, during which time they are more likely to loiter around people and urban areas.  They occasionally associate with Australian Magpies or Common Starlings when foraging.  

Although found in many types of woodland, the Pied Currawong prefers to breed in mature forests.  It builds a nest of thin sticks lined with grass and bark high in trees in spring; generally Eucalyptus are chosen and never isolated ones. It produces a clutch of three eggs; they are a light pinkish-brown colour (likened by one author to that of silly putty) with splotches of darker pink-brown and lavender. Tapered oval in shape, they measure about 1 × 1.5 ins. 
The female broods alone.   The incubation period is not well known, due to the difficulty of observing nests, but observations indicate around 30 days from laying to hatching.
Like all passerines, the chicks are born naked, and blind (altricial), and remain in the nest for an extended period.  They quickly grow a layer of ashy-grey down. Both parents feed the young, although the male does not begin to feed them directly until a few days after birth.
Pied Currawongs are vocal birds, calling when in flight and at all times of the day. They are more noisy early in the morning and in the evening before roosting, as well as before rain.  The loud distinctive call has been translated as Kadow-Kadang or Curra-wong. Birds also have a loud, high-pitched whistle, transcribed as Wheeo. The endemic Lord Howe Island subspecies has a distinct, more melodious call.

The Channel-billed Cuckoo parasitises Pied Currawong nests, laying eggs which are then raised by the unsuspecting foster parents. The eggs closely resemble those of the Currawong hosts.
Pied Currawongs have been known to desert nests once cuckoos have visited, abandoning the existing currawong young, which die, and a Channel-billed Cuckoo has been recorded decapitating a currawong nestling.
 This is my grandson on the slide
 The Pied Currawong can live for over 20 years in the wild.

Currawongs are protected in Australia under the
National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974.
These were the only photographs I have ever got of this bird so I hope you enjoyed seeing and knowing a bit more about it.
Thank you for visiting and leaving comments. 

I am linking this post with Wild Bird Wednesday


  1. tons of info' there Margaret and wonderful photographs too

  2. I enjoy seeing these wild birds from around the world. This has pretty eyes! Thanks for sharing the info and photos of the Pied Currawong.! Have a happy day!

  3. another paradise, funny name pied currawong ;-), interesting bird.

  4. interesting bird - sounds crafy, too. i like the slide. :)

  5. The bird reminds me a bit of our magpies in the U. S. Pretty colors and looks intelligent. Nasty cuckoos. Love the wagon.

  6. O me o my, the Pied Currawong, is thrilling and beautiful, love it.

  7. Interesting information about the crafty Pied Currawong.

  8. How fascinating, I have never heard of this bird! And I think he is very smart, too! I love the fourth picture, he is looking right at you! In some of these pictures, underneath his tail looks yellow like his eyes. What a beautiful place, i love the tree reflections and the wagon.

  9. We have a family of currawongs in our yard at the moment. While the adults call is gorgeous, the adolescents can only be described as whingers. And I love them.

  10. Great series and they will take your lunch from the BBQ as well is you are not watching it.