One of three species in Australia, the Pied Currawong, Strepera graculina, can be found all along the eastern coast, although not Tasmania.
In this part of the country, Pied Currawongs are common. They prefer forests and woodlands but have also adapted well to suburbia. They are adaptive, musical, playful and amazingly graceful.
In the Reserve
Pied Currawongs can be found in the built up areas around the Reserve but are also common within the Edward Hunter Heritage Bush Reserve. They can be found in a loose group – probably a family group – at present, and some have been collecting nesting materials.
Both male and female birds collect materials but the female builds the nest. The male keeps her fed whilst she is incubating the eggs and during the first week after hatching – breeding season is from July and it takes around 15 weeks to raise the chicks.
The Pied Currawong eats berries, invertebrates and also other birds’ eggs and hatchlings. In summer, it is mainly invertebrates; in winter, it is berries. In this article, Ian Fraser discusses one of the contraversial aspects of this bird: their prey is young nestlings and eggs.
He explains this in the context that currawongs have become suburb dwellers. It used to be the case that they would breed in forests; however, the availability of berries in suburbia during winter (cotoneaster, for example) has meant they stick around during breeding season. Breeding requires high protein requirements and small birds and their eggs provide this. He explains that, as a consequence of their presence in suburbia, we notice behaviour we haven’t before.
The other issue that arises with currawongs is the belief that their increase in numbers has been at the expense of small native birds. Some research points to the effect on small birds such as Eastern Yellow Robins and the ease with which they are preyed upon given a lack of cover in fragmented remains and edges of bush. This article, like Fraser’s, indicates that pied currawongs, in fact, seem to prey most commonly on introduced/common birds.
The Pied Currawong can live up to 20 years.
Sources and further resources
Bayly, K.L. & Blumstein, D.T. (2001) Pied Currawongs and the deline of native birds, Emu, 101, 199-204. https://www.eeb.ucla.edu/Faculty/Blumstein/pdf%20reprints/Bayly&Blumstein2001_Emu.pdf
Birds in Backyards (n.d.) Pied Currawong Basic Information. http://www.birdsinbackyards.net/species/Strepera-graculina
Fraser, I. (2012) Are currawongs always wong? BlogSpot: Ian Fraser, talking naturally. http://ianfrasertalkingnaturally.blogspot.com.au/2012/08/are-currawongs-always-wong.html