All about an Excellent Singer – the Pied Currawong
If you have heard a black and white bird calling ‘curra-wong, curra-wong’ around your place, then you have just identified the Pied Currawong. This call is where the bird gets its name from.
Pied Currawongs love hanging out in the suburbs in eastern Australia. You cannot miss them.
Currawongs will walk along the rails of your veranda, perch on your clothesline or sing from the telegraph pole outside your home.
You can help look after Willie Wagtails in your Backyard
You might see a Currawong foraging on your lawn. It is looking for grubs and insects to eat!
Currawongs are omnivores, which means they eat both meat and plants. They prey on skinks, small birds and chicks, but they also love to eat berries.
Currawongs are great helpers to have around. They also eat up carrion and clean up the streets.
Pied Currawongs also eat two particular species of stick insect that can defoliate patches of eucalyptus forests if there are too many of them around.
Having Currawongs around will help keep your local area healthy and thriving.
Be a Backyard Buddy
Get to know your bird buddies. Pied Currawongs look similar to the Australian Magpie and the Pied Butcherbird, but with a few key differences.
You can easily tell these similar birds apart by their eyes.
Currawongs have yellow eyes, whereas Magpies have red-brown eyes and Butcherbirds have very dark brown, almost black eyes.
Pied Currawongs also don’t have any white markings on their back, unlike Magpies or Butcherbirds.
Pied Currawongs love:
- Singing their distinctive and melodious call.
- Eating berries from native plants, but also from weeds such as Asparagus Fern and Privet.
- Eating insects, skinks, rodents, caterpillars, smaller birds, chicks and carrion.
- Forming flocks of up to 100 birds or more during the wintertime and moving to plains and towns to feed. When the sun sets, these guys make an impressive, noisy sight as they fly home to communal roosts to rest for the night.
But they don't like:
- Rat poison. If a Currawong eats a rodent contaminated by rat poison, it could become sick and die.
- Channel-billed Cuckoos - which lay their eggs in the nest of the Pied Currawong. Unlike other Cuckoos, the Channel-billed Cuckoo chicks do not evict the host’s young or eggs from the nest, but simply grow faster and demand all the food, thus starving the poor Pied Currawong chicks.
Be a Buddy to Pied Currawongs
- Keep large, old trees for birds to nest and roost in, and particularly trees with hollows as they take up to 100 years to develop and animals love to live in them.
- Make your home a safe house for small birds by planting local native strappy or spiny ground covers. Some examples are Lomandra longifolia (Spiny Headed Mat Rush) or a Dianella. These create refuges and habitat for them while keeping bigger birds out.
- Plant local natives in your garden that have berries Currawongs and other animals can eat.
- Mulch your garden to attract bugs and lizards for birds to feed on.
- Using chemicals to deter insects or rodents, as these chemicals can make birds sick if they inject poisoned creatures.
- Planting weed species in your garden such as Asparagus Fern, Hawthorn, Lantana and Privet, as Currawongs will come and eat the berries and then fly off and poop the seeds somewhere where they could sprout and become a real environmental problem.
Don't be surprised if Pied Currawongs:
- Pied Currawongs store up some of their food for later. Sometimes they store prey they’ve caught in a ‘larder’ - they hang it on a hook or a tree fork. Then they leave larger prey there, such as a small possum or carrion, and come back to feed on it over time.
- You see big flocks of Currawongs in winter.
- The Pied Currawong may be a little troublemaker for spreading the seeds of weeds and for eating up small birds and the chicks of other native birds, but it should not tarnish the reputation of its cousins.
- Tasmania is home to the Black Currawong. It has a heavy black bill, bright yellow eyes and makes a ‘kar-week, week-kar’ sound. The Grey Currawong, with a white tail, lives along the southern part of the mainland.
- Lord Howe Island is also home to a Currawong that only lives on the island. The Lord Howe Island Pied Currawongs are the top predator in the island’s food chain and their prey ranges from other birds to rodents.