Pied Currawong

Quick Facts

Length: 51 cm
Height: -
Weight: 287 grams
Colour: Mostly black with a bright yellow eye, small patches of white under the tail. Large black bill
Habitat: Forests and woodlands
Food: Small lizards, insects, caterpillars and berries as well as small and young birds
Predators: -
Status: Secure in NSW & QLD. Not Present in NT, SA, TAS & WA
Pied Currawong

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.

Two other species of currawong are found in Australia. The Grey Currawong lives in Australia's south, while theBlack Currawong, is restricted to Tasmania. Both of these species differ from the Pied Currawong in lacking white on the rump. The Grey Currawong is variable across its range, grey in the east, blacker in Tasmania and browner in the west, with regional differences in the amounts of white in the wing. Another Australian species that is sometimes confused with the Pied Currawong is the Australian Magpie, although the two are quite different in plumage. The Magpie has a grey and black bill and a red-brown eye. The Australian Magpie also has large areas of white on the body.

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

Author: Rosalyn Plunkett
Last Updated: Wednesday 8th January, 2014
BirdLife Australia - www.birdlife.org.au


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