A Currawong in a Kurrajong

Pied Currawongs Strepera graculina are uncommon visitors to Newstead. As altitudinal migrants, they move from their breeding grounds along the Great Divide, into the foothills during autumn. Over the past few years, small numbers have passed through in late April/May and then disappeared. In nearby Castlemaine they are present throughout winter in good numbers. Our local Grey Currawong Strepera versicolour doesn’t like village life, but is resident in the surrounding bush year round, albeit in small numbers. It was a surprise then to have a lone Pied Currawong turn up in our yard over the weekend. A ring of alarm calls from smaller birds alerted me to its presence – the currawong heading direct for a Kurrajong tree next door.

Currawong1

Pied Currawong, Newstead, 11th August 2013.

It was obviously on a mission, purposefully dissecting seeds from the open pods of the Kurrajong, as I watched on from nearby. The Kurrajong Brachychiton populneus is an interesting plant. It grows naturally throughout much of semi-arid inland Australia and has been widely planted as an ornamental tree. I suspect it once occurred naturally not too far from Newstead.

Currawong2

The bird had no difficulty removing individual seeds from the pods.

Kurrajongs have distinctive seed pods, woody and boat-shaped, laden with hairy yellow seeds. Speaking from personal experience, the hairs on the seeds and pods can cause skin irritation! No problem for the currawong though – it deftly removed individual seeds without concern.

Currawong3

Note the white base to the tail which distinguishes the Pied Currawong from its grey relative.

Judging from its behaviour I think this wasn’t its first visit to the tree. Perhaps it’s one of a small number of local Pied Currawongs exploiting such resources during the depths of winter.

6 responses to “A Currawong in a Kurrajong

  1. Lynette Amaterstein

    Really good pic Geoff. We have a large number of Pied Currawongs around our house near kalimna Forest in Castlemaine. Sometimes in the late afternoon they will sing their chorus in the tree tops for a couple of hours ….very noisey.

  2. Hi Lyn – yes their numbers seem to be much greater around Castlemaine for some reason. I wonder if its not a function of the number of home gardens with food resources over winter.
    Cheers, geoff

  3. carol at south muckleford

    I too have observed a Pied Currawong recently in the bush at South Muckleford, quite close to the house. It appeared to be on it’s own. In fact it seems that it’s the season of the black bush birds, with Australian Magpie, Little and Australian Raven, Grey and Pied Currawong and White-winged Chough all active.

  4. Regarding Carol’s comment about the black birds; something I became aware of several years ago when we were travelling, was the fact that during wet and cold weather the birds we were seeing were nearly all black, black and white, or white, with a couple of grey one here and there.

  5. Pingback: Pied Currawongs – When do they leave Castlemaine? | Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club

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