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Pieds a problem?

July 26, 2016

Pied Currawong 2Pied CurrawongThe Pied Currawong is partially an altitudinal migrant, with many birds moving from the forested ranges to spend winter at lower altitudes – although more birds are now spending all year lower down, especially in urban areas where backyard gardens can provide rich pickings.

Our open paddocks near Strath Creek are dotted with many Pied Currawongs at present. A loose flock of 20 or more spend the day wandering around probing and jabbing in the grass, presumably for worms and grubs (beetle larvae) such as cockchafers, which can be pasture pests that feed on grass roots. So the currawongs’ current activity can be seen as beneficial.

However, there is a more sinister aspect of having so many currawongs around. As well as being omnivorous scavengers feeding on insects, berries, small lizards etc, they are also voracious predators on small and young birds. According to BirdLife Australia’s Birds in Backyards website, “a pair of Pied Currawong may kill about 40 broods (up to two kilograms) of small birds to raise one brood of its own”. With many woodland birds in decline and the nesting season coming up, we therefore have mixed feelings towards our currawongs.

At times they can be a noisy lot, particularly when they come together in groups, with a diverse range of calls. On our frequent foggy days they can sound quite eerie and mournful, at other times rather plaintive. Click below to hear a selection of their calls.

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