The pied currawong is one of my favourite birds. I’ve been lucky enough to have a pair of these birds live around my home. Mum and Dad currawong have been raising a family here every year since 2012 and I’ve gotten to know them quite well. (You can see full size photos and better quality videos on my blog site rather than in the feed)
The pied currawong is a large bird, about 50cm in length, and is black in colouring with dark grey legs and a white patch under the tail and white tips of the wings which you can see when they’re in flight.
These birds are found on the east coast of mainland Australia and live in forests but have adapted to suburban living.
They eat small lizards, insects and berries. These birds will also take baby birds or small birds like finches, which I think is why many people don’t like currawongs. The food is either eaten immediately or stored away in a fork of a tree to eat later. The hook on their large beak is used to shred the prey.
It’s very difficult to tell the sexes apart with these birds, so the only way I can tell with this pair is that the male looks more robust and is not scared of me, while the female is a bit thinner and is quite timid. And when there are babies around, it’s obvious which one is the female as she is the one who feeds them.
Above is the male currawong in a photo take in December 2012 when the pair had babies. You can see he’s looking a little worse for wear having been busy feeding Mum while she’s sitting on the nest.
Here he is in June 2017, looking stunning and very healthy during winter.
Here he is again. What a look on his face!
The female currawong is pictured here in some photos from November 2016 when there were young around. She looks like she’s having some time out.
And who can blame her wanting some quiet time when she has 2 or even 3 babies constantly bothering her for something to eat.
Here is a video from December 2015 of one of 3 young currawongs the pair raised that summer.
From my observations of this pair of currawongs, I’ve noticed that Dad feeds Mum while she’s on the nest, and seems to help out a little feeding the babies until they fledge, then Dad goes it alone, leaving Mum to continue feeding and raising their young. However, Mum does things a bit differently to what I’ve read about them raising their family. Year after year, I’ve seen Mum currawong feed her babies and then after barely a month, she starts pecking them quite viciously after she feeds them, to get them away from her, then hardly a week goes by and the young ones have already left and moved on. From what I’ve read about these birds, Mum should be looking after them for a lot longer. Maybe she’s just not a very patient mother.
The currawongs are never demanding birds (unlike the butcherbirds!) so I don’t mind giving them a bit of meat to eat. They seem to have a bit of a ritual going where they wait in the gum trees near the house, and when they see me appear on the veranda, they fly closer, forever on the lookout for the mean magpies that could attack them, then they fly over to the railing and wait to be thrown a bit of meat or for me to leave a bit for them to take.
This is short video of me feeding the male currawong. You can hear a baby begging for food in the background.
And this is a short video of the female currawong coming to get a bit of meat then flying off. You can see the young ones following her. You can also see the white wing tips as they fly.
The poor girl looks in dreadful condition, missing feathers at her neck, skinny, harried, and panicky about getting attacked by the local magpies (they have babies at the same time so it can be a bit of war zone at times).
It’s taken me a long time, but I have managed to record a few of the pied currawong’s calls. They seem to have quite a few different ones. You may need to turn up the volume to hear the recordings properly.
I love the sounds in this first recording. I’m not completely sure, but I think it’s 2 birds, each making a different sound.
This next recording is what I hear quite often. I’ve noticed they make this sound during flight.
This last recording is like the one above but has an extra inclusion.
I hope you found this post interesting and that it gave you an insight into the life of a pied currawong.