Curry the Currawong
Every now and then a reader makes a comment or sends me an email with an amazing or amusing story about a relationship with a bird. Today Cath from the Adelaide Hills sent me the following story about her pet currawong.
I have a currawong here with me at Littlehampton in the Adelaide Hills. Curry came to me via a circuitous route – he was stuck upside down for some hours high in a tree in Crafers last September, rescued by a neighbour of a workmate and finally came to me as they didn’t know what to do. I had never raised a currawong before and I can say it has been a very rewarding experience. I adore the bird.
The bird hadn’t fledged, only had downy feathers and could not stand for about a week. This is back in September. It was just a huge beak surrounded by down.
Plenty of boiled egg, meal worms (with heads squashed), strawberries, blueberres and mulberries. Shards of apple each day. Small lump of cheese for calcium. And mice and rats. At least now Curry is big (voice has broken, eyes now yellow instead of gray-brown) I don’t have to scissor the rodents into pieces for him. He eats them whole. Fresh corn kernels are a favourite. Bits of steak rolled in Wombaroo insectivor mix, too. As a baby I fed him every two hours, now it’s 3 or 4 times a day.
The bird rides on my dog’s back, he just loves the dog. This happened by accident really as once the bird fledged he spent a couple of months free ranging in a big room in my house for part of the day and overnight – outside for most of each day in a big cage for sun and to acclimatise to sounds of the wild. The dog would go into the room and sleep on the couch. So I guess the bird knew very early the dog was no threat. They nestle up to each other and Curry pulls out dog fur and swallows it to use for digestion. They chuck up casts like owls do.
Curry presents me with the wiper blades of my car, steals my lighter, lies on its back at my feet, peeping and squeaking like a chicken, flies onto my shoulder, sits inside the ute on the dashboard if I leave the window down (beware leaving bills and paperwork on dash, they get stolen or shredded).
The bird has teamed up with a magpie of last spring so they are the same age. The magpie comes when I call “Curry chicken” at the top of my voice. They eat together but Curry is jealous and chases the magpie away eventually. He won’t let me carry around my galah, which I have had 4 years and has only 1 wing. Curry flies up and grabs the galah’s tail while she is perched on my shoulder, all the while screaming.
Curry also loves teasing the bantam chooks and has them completely bluffed. All in all, an amazing character and part of my extended animal-only family.
So what to do now? I am moving back east to NSW, to a farm in the middle of the state, and plan on taking the bird with me. It has been in the ute plenty of times and has travelled to the vet’s twice in a small cage and was not worried with his doggy mate sitting right there next to him.
This is how I plan to undertake the big trip east. I feel he will die here as he does not know he is a currawong. Although he responds to the calls of the odd currawong that passes through, I have caught him chasing another juvenile, and hiding from older birds.
The magpies, and there are dozens here, have accepted him finally and he and his magpie mate fly around together and play chasies a lot. But 3 or 4 times a day he wants food from me. He finds his own slaters and earwigs, I know that, and uses his beaks to fish out bugs in the trees overhanging the house. The only neighbours have cats and I fear he would hang around them if I left him here alone.
I’d like to know what you think. Should I transport the birds in the day or overnight? The trip will be a nightmare with the dog, bantams, galah and cockatiel all in the car too. They all know each other though, although I reckon Curry sees the cockatiel as lunch.
Since the bird came from Crafers, I guess he is a grey currawong? Are there any pied currawongs here in SA? It’s bit hard to tell from the photos on the web but he looks like the bird at the top of this site. He has a definite white patch under the tail, white tail tips and white wing tips on the longest wing feathers.
That is an amazing story Cath. Thanks for sharing this with my readers.
You are correct in thinking it is a Grey Currawong. The Pied Currawong is only found in the extreme SE of South Australia. Animals can be quite resilient and I’m sure they will all cope with the journey. I’d be inclined to travel in the cooler hours of the day unless you have reliable airconditioning in your vehicle. All the best with the trip.
Depending on where you are going to live in NSW, you may be in an area that has both Pied and Grey Currawongs.
I’m glad you liked my story Trevor. I would never travel in the heat and yes, the aircon is good in the crewcab. I reckon the cockatiel would get night frights if I went at night. I plan to buy several small finch-type cages for the birds and cover all bar 1 side with dark towels – the side facing the front seats, so they can all see me and the dog. I am not looking forward to it.
By the way, the currawong has been fully outside for 2 months. Not sure where he sleeps at night but I gather it’s pretty close. He is always around, following me or the dog or hounding the chooks. Has had several close calls with hawks but each confrontation makes him smarter. It worries me, but what can one do? Nature can only be altered to a certain degree and the bird must be free.
Thanks Cath. all the best with The Big Move. Hope all goes well and that your circus…. er… menagerie arrives safely at your destination.
These are the most horrible birds in australia and if there was a way of aliminating these pest altogeather I would be the first to voluntere for the job.
We use to have lots of small birds in our back yard like fairy wrens and blue wrens but the currawongs have killed the young and chased all others away.
They also make a mess on how balconies and are extremely sly and cunning bird.
If anyone out there knows how to get rid of them would love to hear from you.
Hi there Tony,
I believe many people share your opinions of this bird and frustrations with them. Eliminating them is no easy task – and possibly not desirable – and harming them in any way is illegal anyway. If they are causing such a problem, it might be worth calling the nearest office of National Parks and wildlife for advice.
As for the small birds disappearing from your garden there are many possible causes. Yes – the currawongs are possibly one of the predators in the area, along with ravens, magpies, butcherbirds, hawks, owls and so on – their survival depends on eating the young and eggs of other species. Fact of life.
The true situation is far more complex, however. Probably the chief reason for the disappearance of small birds from gardens would have to be human interference in the environment. Clearing of habitat for new housing is causing irreparable damage. Humans then bring their pet cats which further destroy untold thousands (millions nation wide) of small birds, lizards and small mammals (eg bandicoots).
Many introduced species of birds are also having a negative impact on these small birds. Sparrows, Starlings, Indian Mynas, Common Blackbirds and others move in to newly established suburbs, and they compete with our native species for food and nesting sites.
I would agree with you that the currawongs are a part of the problem, but the big picture is unfortunately far more depressing than you have stated.
My ten year old brown burmese cat montie has a currawong who is hi best friend they play all day long the bird loves him.Montie puts his paw in the air and the bird touches it with his beek it’s really cute.
Its apparent that anyone who thinks that currawongs,crows or flying foxes are cute and cuddly, haven’t lived anywhere near them. We’ve had the experience of living with all three and still haven’t came up with a solution that’s legal. can anyone help?
I came across this by accident and loved so much Cath’s tale about her baby currawong. I do hope I can contribute more to this site.
Meant to ask, has anyone heard if Cath and all her birds arrived safely in their new abode ?
I had another comment earlier today on this topic but have not approved the comment. If “Joe Blow” reads this – obviously not his real name hiding behind a pseudonym – his suggestions were illegal. As owner and moderator of this site I reserve the right to delete any such comments.
My husband brought home a fledgling currawong about 8 months ago, I named him Bird very original I know, ha, we raised him at first in a large cage inside and would let him out during the day. Now he sleeps in the trees near the house. He gets on well with our cats, dogs and chooks, the chooks tolerate him now though at first they pecked and chased him and I had to rescue him from them on a couple of occasions. He comes inside via the dog door (which now is a hole in the wall) when he’s hungry, he gets cheese, minced meat and blue berries, he also finds his own insects outside. There is a couple of butcher birds that join him when he is being fed outside. When he was younger he jumped from branch to branch up the oak tree then tried to fly to the top of the garage but miss judged it and crashed into the garage wall above the door now he doesn’t fly very well. He accompanies me when I am gardening, hanging the washing and likes it when I chop the fire wood as he gets all the insects hiding in the wood. He likes to sit on our shoulders and head when we walk around outside. The only drawback when he is inside is that he isn’t toilet trained and I am always cleaning up after him. I’ve recently learnt that they can live between 10 and 20 years. So looks like he’ll be part of the family for the rest of my life. It’s been educational raising him and he has made me smile many times.
Thank you for your site I enjoyed reading the contributions.
I think I might have a grey currawong in my native garden in Norwood.
He/she had a high pitched ( almost scream) loud call.
Has been here for about 4 months –
The bird seems to be alone but spends long periods on a very large dead tree in my back garden.
He/she can call for extended periods.
I’ve lived in this house for almost 50 years and never observed this before.
Any comments about this surprising bird?