Little Bright Eyes

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.

Currawong about to steal lunch.
That looks like a juicy pear!

On the positive side, they are full of character.

Cute Currawong pretending to be a duck.
Could I  possibly pass as a duck? People love ducks.

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!

Perfect nest lining material for a currawong.
Currawong on nest
Yes, I’m having chickies!

After a new little currawong  leaves the nest 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.

Currawong twins begging food .
The terrible twins!
Such a long day!
Such a long day for a parent with a toddler!

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.

Oh, good grief! This currawong has a huge job feeding a cuckoo chick.
Oh, good grief!  (Wikipedia)

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. Talk about personality plus!

Just a cute currawong chick.

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.’

Currawong family
OK, remember you are black princes in this little kingdom.

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.

Pied Currawong
I love my high perch.
Currawong on dead bough.
Hmm, maybe a bit too high!

So are currawongs cute? Well, yes I think they are……little ones anyway!  How could I say otherwise under this intense gaze?

Currawong chick.
Chick surveying his world.

Some days are just too hot for a youngster.

Baby currawong cooling off.
Oh the relief!
Young currawong drying off.

Nevertheless, the world is full of wonder for a curious currawong.

Currawong on the telephone wire.
This a very long, thin branch!

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.

Hand raised currawong, now wild and free but still a regular visitor to Tammy Kirtley.
Human kindness never forgotten. (photo credit Tammy Kirtley)


  1. Yes, I think they’re delightfully characteristic.
    They are as entitled to eat meat (birds, eggs etc
    (as we are to eat pork) some may consider that
    canabulistic but that’s just a human point of view.
    I wouldn’t lose too much sleep if a channel billed
    cuckoo chick disappeared down one’s throat.
    By the way when are you doing the survey on CBCs?

    • Pauline

      I think only a channel billed cuckoo’s mother would have any affection for it, Sammy.

  2. I am also a big fan of these much maligned birds! As for their eating habits – that are just eating to live, the same as any animal or human for that matter. There’s no maliciousness in their ways. We’ve shared our garden with them for years and really enjoy their company.

    Love your photos by the way, especially the one with the ‘duck’!

    • Pauline

      They are not nearly as aggressive as the wattle birds, Christine. Keep pretty much to themselves here, and I am more inclined to her them singing down in the bush.

  3. I love them because their a native and have their place here in Australia just like magpies kookaburras and many other carnivores, as you say with protection the little ones can find safety in amongst the undergrowth, it’s the Indian mynas I find detestable they don’t belong and cause so much carnage to our natives, horrible birds, pack them up and send them back to India where they belong … just my thoughts 😊

    • Pauline

      Yes, I agree about the Indian Mynas. Oddly enough they have been in Blackheath village for the 20 years we have been in the Blue Mountains, but thankfully have never ventured to our place, only a 5 minute walk away. Hope it stays that way. It’s the same with pigeons and sparrows.

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