31 October 2019

52. One in a Million Chillawong

There are a million Pied Currawongs in the forests of south-eastern Australia. I’ve just seen a baby one in a million bird.

Currawongs like forests. Our farm has Eucalypt woodlands and Cypress Pine forests on the mountains that surround the house. The bird I spied stealing food is only fresh out of the nest.

How can I tell?  


The grey nappy. 

Yes...it has a very cute tutu.

The bird still wears the downy feathers that formed when it was a nestling. They look like a feather skirt just above the legs. This guy also has a strange croak, a wail different from more developed adult calls.


The Pied Currawong has heaps of other names. 

My favourite is the Chillawong- such a cool moniker.

There’s also the Bell Magpie, Black Magpie or Mountain Magpie.  

All the Currawongs I have at home hate having their photo taken.

The juvenile hates it as much as its parents. 


Staring at me with one glowing yellow eye, the little Curra makes it clear it doesn’t like me watching.


Scavengers who eat berries, snails, lizards and little birds, their best-loved food is stick insects.

The Pied Currawongs look funny making two-legged jumps. They stride along the ground on long black legs, putting one claw out and down in front of the other.

Adult Pied Currawongs.

Most juvenile birds are more of a dull grey brown than their parents with jet black plumage.

Here are 2 pictures of one of last seasons juvenile Currawongs.

Only been alive for 2 months or so, this juvenile bird already seems well practised at putting on a real big-guy cranky face.

Not as crafty as its parents yet, this black and white baby gets harangued by my long term resident Willy Wagtail nesting nearby. 


A full adult curra is 480 mm, and likes to show off a death stare.

That quick video was taken over a week ago. 

The Wagtail has attacked it each morning since then.

I see it every day; it makes me laugh.

The baby Curra has no idea of its own size or strength yet, but it will. 

Adult Pied Currawongs never take that crap from a pipsqueak fantail. 

If the fellow with the grey tutu goes to the birdbath it almost expects to be dive-bombed now. 


It is also attacked by White-plumed and Spiny-cheeked Honeyeaters for flying anywhere near where they have their own fledglings or any one of the nesting trees. 


It’s funny to see it duck and weave to avoid a whole lot of much smaller birds. 
With a thick, heavy bill, one day it might even eat them although it prefers carrion. 

Still so young, it just doesn’t understand why.

I photographed him stealing the food left out for my half-pet/half-wild peacocks. He’s welcome to what they leave behind, just like all the other birds who make the most of every seed and scrap I offer.

My favourite photo has the bird with a small dog biscuit in its beak. 

A blurry pic, the small Curra is raging at me with both glassy eyes and wishing I’d go away. 

I leave it alone, but I’ll be looking out for the bird with the fluffy bottom from now on. 

The juvenile Pied Currawong might only be one in a million, 
but it has character and I like that in a bird.


  1. ❤❤❤

    Thank you T. Very similar to our rooks - in size, intelligence and stout beak at least, though even when they have lost their fluff, rooks keep a raggy-trousered appearance. My favourite bird, possibly because I always reckon they know what I am thinking more than I know what they are thinking.

    1. Thanks Steve, I'm certain adult Currawongs are very bright, but this baby not so much yet. It looks at the parent birds nesting nearby as they fly over and dive bomb it mercilessly, as if it has no idea why they hate him. It's funny to see it duck and weave like a prizefighter. I don't know if it knew what I was thinking when I caught it stealing a tiny dog biscuit, but if looks could kill it gave me a killer. I like most birds, but the ones that are ugly cute with a big personality are the ones I like best. Thanks for making a response Deep Dene.