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Currawongs are three species of medium-sized passerine birds belonging to the genus Strepera in the family Artamidae native to Australasia. These are the grey currawong (Strepera versicolor), pied currawong (S. graculina), and black currawong (S. fuliginosa). The common name comes from the call of the familiar pied currawong of eastern Australia and is onomatopoeic. They were formerly known as crow-shrikes or bell-magpies. Despite their resemblance to crows and ravens, they are only distantly related to the corvidae, instead belonging to an Afro-Asian radiation of birds of superfamily Malaconotoidea.
The true currawongs are a little larger than the Australian magpie, smaller than the ravens (except possibly the little raven, which is only slightly larger on average), but broadly similar in appearance. They are easily distinguished by their yellow eyes, in contrast to the red eyes of a magpie and white eyes of Australian crows and ravens. Currawongs are also characterised by the hooked tips of their long, sharply pointed beaks. They are not as terrestrial as the magpie and have shorter legs. They are omnivorous, foraging in foliage, on tree trunks and limbs, and on the ground, taking insects and larvae (often dug out from under the bark of trees), fruit, and the nestlings of other birds. They are distinguishable from magpies and crows by their comical flight style in amongst foliage, appearing to almost fall about from branch to branch as if they were inept flyers.
The term currawong itself is derived from the call of the pied currawong. However, the exact origin of term is unclear; the most likely antecedent is the word garrawaŋ from the indigenous Jagera language from the Brisbane region, although the Dharug word gurawaruŋ from the Sydney basin is a possibility. Yungang as well as kurrawang and kurrawah are names from the Tharawal people of the Illawarra region.
The three currawong species are sombre-plumaged dark grey or black birds with large bills. They resemble crows and ravens, although are slimmer in build with longer tails, booted tarsi and white pages on their wings and tails. Their flight is undulating. Male birds have longer bills than females, the reason for which is unknown but suggests differentiation in feeding technique.
Distribution and habitat
Currawongs are protected in NSW under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974.
Currawongs are dominant birds that can drive off other species, especially when settling around an area used or inhabited by people. They have been known to migrate to towns and cities during the winter. Birds congregate in loose flocks.
The female builds the nest and incubates the young alone, although both parents feed them. The nests are somewhat flimsy for birds their size