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Cacophany is the word

September 6, 2020

At the moment the hill is being mobbed by Pied Currawongs (Strepera graculina), lots of them. A search of the web revealed no formal collective noun for these birds. Many had suggested the word I had in mind – cacophony, because when they get together currawongs make a racket (listen to audio clip below).

The word currawong is onomatopoeic from indigenous origins. It is not surprising that the scientific name is derived from the Latin words strepo, to make a noise, and graculus meaning jackdaw-like (a jackdaw being a European bird of the crow family).

Pied Currawongs are in the same family as Butcherbirds and the Australian Magpie. They are altitudinal migrants moving down from the forested highlands in winter to lower altitudes. They are also omnivorous. In winter i.e. now the birds forage in large flocks, but in summer currawongs forage in pairs. They eat fruit, berries, insects and small lizards but are also voracious predators of bird’s eggs and small and young birds. Many a blog has lamented the demise of the occupants of avidly watched small bird nests at the beak of a Pied Currawong or Raven.

This doesn’t mean the currawong gets its own way all the time. In parts of Australia (Sydney and north) the Channel-billed Cuckoo parasitises Pied Currawong nests by laying their own eggs in it. The cuckoo chick is then raised by the currawongs.

Down around these parts particularly in winter, mornings can be a noisy affair due to flocks of currawongs. In addition most other bird species actively mob currawongs to move them away from their own nests in the hope of protecting their eggs or chicks.

Cacophany multiplied.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Susan permalink
    September 6, 2020 8:58 pm

    what about the noise of coughs? they are very noisy as well! great sound recording.

  2. September 19, 2020 6:35 pm

    Yes, I’ve had to rescue noisy miner chicks from currawongs…who weren’t even hungry, seeing they’re tame and very well fed. Instinct kicks in.

    Last year two of my friendly currawong pairs ended up with cuckoos. They are feathered black holes into which vast amounts of food are cast. And very loud! 😀

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