Aust birds    Bird names   News   1-26    Habitats    Key plants    Glossary    Plumage    Nests    Tips    Thumbnails    Gen. info    Sponsors    Photos for sale   
NON-PASSERINES     1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9    10     11     12     13     14 15     16     17     18     19     20     21     22     23     24     25     26     PASSERINES
Common names sorted alphabetically: A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M   N   O   P   Q   R   S   T   W   Y  
Have birds left a mess around your place? We recommend to try a professional cleaning service.

22

Pied Currawong

(Strepera graculina)
Alternate name(s): "(Pied) Bell Magpie", "Chillawong", "Pied Crow-shrike", "Black Magpie*", "Muttonbird*", "Mountain Magpie*"
Aboriginal name(s): "cur-ow-ung*" [awaba], "kirriwong*" [birbai]

Size: 42-50 cm; wing span 55-67 cm
Weight: 320 g (male), 280 g (female), averages

Similar species

Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Pied Currawong at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

Race "graculina"

Not the photos you want? Or are you after even better quality? Have a look here .

ADULT

Close-up full-frontal portrait of an adult Pied Currawong
[Mt. Kaputar NP, NSW, August 2015]

Frontal portrait of a Pied Currawong
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2014]

Close-up near-frontal portrait of a Pied Currawong
[Oxley Wild Rivers NP, NSW, August 2015]

Close-up near-lateral portrait of a Pied Currawong
[Oxley Wild Rivers NP, NSW, August 2015]

Frontal view of a Pied Currawong on our lawn
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2013]

Frontal view of a Pied Currawong on our lawn
[Eulah Creek, NSW, July 2011]

Frontal view of a resting Pied Currawong (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, January 2013]

This shot emphasizes the Pied Currawong's prominent eyebrows
[Eulah Creek, NSW, July 2011]

Near-frontal view of a Pied Currawong on our lawn
[Eulah Creek, NSW, May 2011]

Near-frontal view of a Pied Currawong in a tree
[Warrumbungle NP, NSW, April 2006]

Close-up lateral portrait of a Pied Currawong
[Oxley Wild Rivers NP, NSW, August 2015]

Lateral portrait of a Pied Currawong
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2014]

Lateral view of a Pied Currawong on our lawn
[Eulah Creek, NSW, July 2014]

Slightly different posture
[Eulah Creek, NSW, July 2011]

Lateral view of a Pied Currawong
[Eulah Creek, NSW, June 2007]

Lateral view of a Pied Currawong; note the strong, slightly hooked bill and the upright stance while looking for prey in grass
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2013]

This one is looking over its shoulder
[Eulah Creek, NSW, July 2011]

View of the back of a nosy Pied Currawong seen at an altitude of 1500 m
[Mt. Kaputar NP, NSW, August 2007]

This Pied Currawong lets its wings droop in anticipation of an attack by an Australian Magpie
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2011]

This photo shows most clearly a Pied Currawong's hooked bill, similar to those of Pied Butcherbirds or Grey Butcherbirds
[Eulah Creek, NSW, 2007]

Here a Pied Currawong drinking from a water bowl
[Warrumbungle NP, NSW]

Pied Currawong preening
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2008]

Pied Currawong in flight, with its wings stretched, thereby displaying the characteristic underwing pattern
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2013]

Pied Currawong in gliding flight

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Ventral view of a juvenile Pied Currawong (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, December 2013]

Juvenile Pied Currawongs waiting to be fed by their parents (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, December 2013]

Deformed bill

A Pied Currawong came to our place with a mis-shaped upper mandible. The damage was reminiscent of that done to the bills of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos suffering from PBFD (psittacine beak and feather disease).

Frontal view of a Pied Currawong with a deformed bill
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2013]

Lateral view of a Pied Currawong with a deformed bill
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2013]

Race "crissalis"

ADULT

Lateral view of an adult Pied Currawong (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Lord Howe Island, November 2014]

Lateral view of a Pied Currawong in flight (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Lord Howe Island, November 2014]

Breeding information

Breeding season: Sep - Nov Eggs: 2 - 4 Incubation period: 21 days Fledging age: 30? days

Being nestrobbers, Pied Currawongs nest a bit later than other species that they prey upon to ensure the availability of food for their brood.

Pied Currawongs also have their own nests robbed occasionally, e.g. by Channel-billed Cuckoos.

Nest

"bungobittah", "malunna" = nest [Aboriginal]

Type: Basket Material: Sticks, with grass and/or other lining Height above ground: 5 - 25 m

Pied Currawong nest dislodged by a storn; here one can see clearly the lining material, which looks like grass or rootlets (photo courtesy of V. Bowe)
[Cremorne, NSW, October 2012]

Pied Currawong building a nest (photo courtesy of V. Bowe)
[Cremorne, NSW, August 2012]

Pied Currawong on its nest (photo courtesy of V. Bowe)
[Cremorne, NSW, September 2012]

Pied Currawong on its nest
[Dandry Gorge AA, NSW, October 2013]

Pied Currawong feeding one of the hatchlings in its nest (photo courtesy of V. Bowe)
[Cremorne, NSW, September 2012]

Pied Currawong bringing food to one of its chicks - another bird's chick
[Dandry Gorge AA, NSW, October 2013]

Pied Currawong feeding one of its three chicks; note that the location of this nest is unusual, in the North-West Plains, about 40 km away from the Great Dividing Range
[Yarrie Lake, near Wee Waa, NSW, October 2011]

Pied Currawong with hatchlings in its nest - in this case the adult bird is bringing nesting material, not food (photo courtesy of V. Bowe)
[Cremorne, NSW, September 2012]

Eggs

"boyanga", "booyanga", "derinya", "dirandil", "koomura", "ngampu", "nooluk", "pateena" = Egg; "dirundirri" = eggs [Aboriginal]; "gawu" = eggs [gamilaraay]

Size: 41 x 30 mm Colour: Light-brown, with brown speckles Shape: Tapered oval

Behaviour

Social behaviour: Communal Mobility: Seasonally vagrant Elementary unit: Small flock

Similar to Australian Magpies, Pied Currawongs are winter guests at our place, because chased away by Willie Wagtails during the breeding season.

Whole flocks sometimes "raid" an area in large numbers, terrorising everything on their menu list, before moving on.

After staying at our place 20 km east of Narrabri through the winter of 2007, the about 20 resident birds dispersed in late winter (around late July), just before the start of the breeding season. In the winter of 2010 they were again last seen at our place in significant numbers in late July.

Below an example of a Pied Currawong taking a bath, something we see only rarely.

Pied Currawong dipping into the water of our mini-pond
[Eulah Creek, NSW, July 2011]

Rather than immersing itself, it splashed water by whipping its head sideways
[Eulah Creek, NSW, July 2011]

Next it shook off the water before retiring to a perch for a good preening session
[Eulah Creek, NSW, July 2011]

These two Pied Currawongs are going about it much more seriously
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2011]

Dazed Pied Currawong trying to fend off a Willie Wagtail
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2013]

Judged to be impalatable, this Pied Currawong was allowed to live (and rob another nest)...
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2013]

Pied Currawong looking sideways, exhibiting the wickedly hooked bill - something no small animal will like to see (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, January 2013]

Food, Diet

Like all members of the Strepera family, Pied Currawongs are carnivores. They take animals from the size of large ants up to small birds or small lizards. As the most prolific nest robbers on the Australian continent they are feared by other bird species.

Pied Currawong with another bird's chick in its bill
[Dandry Gorge AA, NSW, October 2013]

Here the nesting hollow from which the Pied Currawong took the chick
[Dandry Gorge AA, NSW, October 2013]

However, they have a very varied diet. They also feed on nuts and fruit, for example the seeds of White Cedars, olives and even grapes. They are known to regurgitate olives and White Cedar seeds into water, probably for softening them up. Given a chance, they will also scavenge dry catfood and sheep pellets.

This Pied Currawong has caught a small frog
[Eulah Creek, NSW, March 2012]

Photographic evidence showing that Pied Currawongs know how to kill frogs before devouring them
[Eulah Creek, NSW, March 2012]

This Pied Currawong is scavenging a piece of bread (photo courtesy of C. Hayne)

When times are lean, even birds as big as Pied Currawongs resort to taking small prey, such as this psyllid with lerp
[Eulah Creek, NSW, July 2012]

Evidence of a Pied Currawong's varied diet - this bird is taking nectar from a Grevillea robusta tree
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2012]

Pied Currawong on the prowl in grassland...
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2013]

Gotcha! Pied Currawong that has caught an insect
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2013]

Call(s)/Song

For this species we have recorded the following call(s)/song. The interpretation of their meaning is our own; comments and suggestions for improvement are welcome.

Although always distinctive, the calls of Pied Currawongs have regional variations. Differences are noticeable over distances as short as tens of km.

curry_20140408.mp3 graculina
(Narrabri, NSW)
Contact call © MD
curry_art_20131113.mp3 graculina
(Gold Coast, QLD)
Contact calls © ART
curry_20160311.mp3 graculina
(Bunya Mts NP, QLD)
Contact calls © MD
curry_20140331.mp3 graculina
(Narrabri, NSW)
Arrival © MD
curry_art_20131114.mp3 graculina
(Gold C'st, QLD)
In flight © ART
curry_20140328.mp3 graculina
(Narrabri, NSW)
Raiding calls(?) © MD
curry_20160311_3.mp3 graculina
(Bunya Mts NP, QLD)
Raiding calls(?); flock
(with Torresian Crows)
© MD
curry_20140226_2.mp3 graculina
(Narrabri, NSW)
Various at dusk © MD
curry_art_20131120.mp3 graculina
(Gold C'st, QLD)
Raiding call(?) © ART
curry_art_20131206.mp3 graculina
(Gold C'st, QLD)
? © ART
Click here for more recordings

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.

Would you like to contribute photos or sound recordings to this site?
If interested, please CLICK HERE. Credits to contributors are given HERE.