Pied Currawong Click to enlarge image
Pied Currawong Image: Graham Winterflood
creative commons

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    graculina
    Genus
    Strepera
    Family
    Artamidae
    Order
    Passeriformes
    Class
    Aves
    Subphylum
    Vertebrata
    Phylum
    Chordata
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    44 cm to 51 cm

Pied Currawongs are known for their distinctive, loud and ringing calls which can be far-reaching throughout their territories.

Identification

The Pied Currawong is a large, mostly black bird, with a bright yellow eye. Small patches of white are confined to the under tail, the tips and bases of the tail feathers and a small patch towards the tip of each wing (visible in flight). The bill is large and black and the legs are dark grey-black. Both sexes are similar, although the female may sometimes be greyer on the underparts. Young Pied Currawongs are duller and browner than the adults.

Habitat

The Pied Currawong prefers forests and woodlands, and has become well adapted to suburban areas. Throughout its range it is common and familiar.

Distribution

Pied Currawongs are found throughout eastern Australia, from northern Queensland to Victoria, but is absent from Tasmania.



Seasonality

Outside the breeding season large flocks of Pied Currawongs form, but at most other times these birds are seen alone, in pairs or in family groups. In the north of their range they tend to stay in the same areas year round, while in the south, they may move from the higher areas to the lowlands, especially in the colder regions.

Feeding and diet

Pied Currawongs feed on a variety of foods including small lizards, insects, caterpillars and berries. They also take a large number of small and young birds, especially around urban areas where suitable cover is scarce. Larger prey, up to the size of a young possum, is also taken, and birds will occasionally hunt as a group. Prey may be stored in a 'larder' (hung on a hook or in a tree fork or crevice) and either eaten straight away or, in the case of larger prey, over a period of time.

Communication

The main call is a loud "currawong", which gives the bird its name. Other frequent sounds include deep croaks and a wolf whistle.

Breeding behaviours

The Pied Currawong's nest is a bowl of sticks, lined with grasses and other soft material. The material is gathered by both sexes, but the female builds the nest, which is placed in a high tree fork, up to 20 m above the ground. The female incubates the eggs, and the male feeds her. The male also supplies food to the female for the first week after the chicks hatch and she feeds the chicks.

  • Breeding Season: July to January
  • Clutch size: 3
  • Incubation: 21 days
  • Time in nest: 30 days

Economic impacts

Pied Currawongs have adapted well to living in urban areas and their growing numbers have been implicated in the fall in numbers of the smaller bird species.

References

  • Pizzey, G. and Knight, F. 1997. Field Guide to the Birds of Australia. Angus and Robertson, Sydney.
  • Schodde, R. and Tideman, S.C. (eds) 1990. Reader's Digest Complete Book of Australian Birds (2nd Edition). Reader's Digest (Australia) Pty Ltd, Sydney.
  • Strahan, R. (ed) 1996. Finches, Bowerbirds and Other Passerines of Australia. Angus and Robertson and the National Photographic Index of Australian Wildlife, Sydney