I must admit that Australia’s pied currawongs do not have a great reputation. They are opportunists, preying on unwary small birds and robbing the nests of others. I’ve never forgiven a local gang of them for harassing our nesting tawny frogmouth and stealing the eggs. However, apart than that dreadful episode they co-exist peacefully with all the other feathered visitors to our garden. I think this must be because we have a thick under-storey of native shrubs and grasses. Tiny birds can hide away when danger threatens. Currawongs are also guilty of gorging on the berries of exotic plants such as holly and laurel, spreading them through our national parks. Oh yes, and they are thieves, leave your alfresco lunch for a moment and it will disappear.
On the positive side, they are full of character .
The birds have a melodious call, which led to their common name. In the early morning and at dusk they can be heard caroling, ‘curra-wong…curra-wong!’
Earth- rich, raucous laughter shakes
Through kookuburra’s song,
But this bird has a mournful voice,
Cause he’s a currawong!
Oh my…..trouble ahead!
When a new little currawong arrives it follows its parent around, squawking non-stop for food. Twins are just that much more exhausting! The parent in the pic below looks slightly alarmed by that larger one.
Mind you, it could be worse. To put things in perspective, a currawong could up end with a channel billed cuckoo’s egg in its nest. This results in a ‘changeling’ with an even bigger appetite.
Our twin currawongs entertained me no end last year, despite their constant squawking. One morning I noticed they were almost grown up, and having their own little breakfast drink.
On one of their last days of being fed I was able to get some close shots as they waited for food in the Japanese maples. By now their eyes were beginning to show more colour. Soon they would have the same, distinctive golden orbs as their parents.
After breakfast there is often a lecture from Mum on how to maintain ascendancy in Pauline Conolly’s garden. ‘Never take a backward step my chickies, especially in the presence of a wattle bird.’
There are so many colourful birds here in the Blue Mountains that I tend to neglect the currawongs. But sometimes they are so entertaining I can’t resist a shot…or two.
So are currawongs cute? Well, yes I think they are……little ones anyway! How could I say otherwise under this intense gaze?
Some days are just too hot for a youngster.
Nevertheless, the world is full of wonder for a curious currawong.
UPDATE – When this article was posted to a FB bird group, Tammy Kirtley responded. She had raised a currawong chick to maturity. It is now wild and free, but still returns for a little treat, and nests annually in her backyard. Thanks for allowing me to use this delightful photo, Tammy.
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