Pied Currawongs are a common bird species along the east coast of Australia, from Cape York down to far south eastern South Australia. Their distribution generally follows the Great Dividing Range but they can be found several hundred kilometres inland where suitable habitat exists.
Their preferred habitats include rainforests, woodlands, forests, coastal scrubs, farmland, parks, gardens and picnic grounds. Where they come in frequent contact with people they can become quite tame. The individual shown in the photos above and below was seen during our recent visit to the Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra. I was able to approach to within several metres. It basically took no notice of me filming him as it went about feeding in the trees and bushes, and on the ground.
The far reaching call of the currawong is one of the iconic sounds of the Australian bush. It is also quite at home in suburban backyards – like my son’s garden in Artarmon, Sydney – and even right in the CBD of our biggest cities.
While on our recent holiday in Sydney we went into the CBD on several occasions. One of those occasions was to visit the markets in The Rocks area.
My prime reason for going there was as a tourist, not as a birder. Not matter where I go I have to see what birds are around. That’s just me. I simply cannot ignore the birds. (I’ve even been known to keep a tally of birds seen through the windows at church! Go figure.)
The Rocks area is in the heart of the Sydney CBD, an area rich in history with most buildings being of some historic value. It attracts hoards of tourists and local visitors on a daily basis. Despite the numbers of humans, the bird population flourishes.
Rock Doves (Feral Pigeons) are everywhere. They thrive on food scraps from careless people dropping parts of their lunch in the many eateries in the area. I noticed that some are reluctant to even get out of the way as I walked along.
Silver Gulls likewise are in great numbers and also thrive on human food. Circular Quay with its hundreds of thousands of travellers daily on the ferries on Sydney Harbour is only a few steps away.
Pied Currawongs are also present in the treed areas within The Rocks. This is a species that has adapted to an urban environment and also feeds on human throwaways.
The introduced Common Myna (see photo below) is another species that has become a pest in urban zones and can be found in large numbers throughout Sydney.
2007 New South Wales trip report #25
While we were staying with our son in Sydney he decided to take an afternoon off from work (he works at home) and take us on a walk from Artarmon along Flat Rock Creek to Middle Harbour. This harbour is a small part of the greater Sydney Harbour.
The walking track took us through nearby suburbs and we enjoyed looking over people’s back fences into their gardens. The track also took us under several major roads and a freeway. Most of the first part was a sealed or concrete walking path shared with cyclists. This first part didn’t yield many interesting birds but it was a very enjoyable walk anyway.
The track then changes to a narrow dirt track and plunges quickly 50 or 60 metres down into Flat Rock Creek. When we reached the creek bed the path then follows the creek along to the harbour. I was not surprised to see Laughing Kookaburras along this part, and observed on flying in a hollow. This could indicate nesting but the hollow was too far away over the creek to investigate further. Pied Currawongs were seen and heard frequently as were Sulphur-crested Cockatoos. Superb Fairy-wrens flitted in and out of the bushes along the path, but never stopping long enough for a photo.
At one stage I saw several Red-whiskered Bulbuls but couldn’t get a clear shot of one. I did manage to get a nice shot on the return walk. This was a new bird for the trip list and a nice one to see despite it being an introduced species. I’ve only ever seen it about three times in total.
I was also delighted to see two Chestnut Teal, a male and a female, swimming in the creek which at that point seemed rather polluted. Nearby several Red-browed Finches caught our attention and White-browed Scrubwrens called from nearby bushes. Noisy Miners were everywhere and we heard several Striated Pardalotes, a Grey Butcherbird, several Australian Magpies and the occasional Australian Raven flew overhead.
I haven’t seen too many pigeons and doves in this part of Sydney, but on our walk I saw Crested Pigeons, Rock Doves and Spotted Turtledoves. Thankfully not too many Indian Mynas were seen in this part of the city. I saw no House Sparrows; they seem to be absent from around here. At the harbour we saw Welcome Swallows and Silver Gulls.
On the return walk I only added Common Koel to the list. As this was another “lifer” for the trip I was pleased. This species has just arrived from its spring migration south. The whole walk took just a few minutes short of four hours, the return part being largely uphill with some very steep parts. We were pleased that we achieved this as both of us are not as fit as we should be. Our son thought it was just a pleasant stroll, but then he walks the area nearly every day.
Grey Currawongs are widespread throughout the area where I live in South Australia but they are not common anywhere except perhaps in the Adelaide Hills. Around home here in Murray Bridge their preferred habitat is mallee scrubland. There are still a few remnant patches of scrub ranging from a few hectares to several hundred hectares. In addition, there is a significant amount of remnant mallee scrub that makes up the roadside vegetation in this district. These remnant habitats are probably very important to the Grey Currawong’s continued existance in the mallee areas of our state.
Unlike the Pied Currawong in other parts of Australia, the Grey Currawong here is not an urban dweller. It was with a little surprise then that last week I saw a group of three currawongs in a park next to one of the factories here in Murray Bridge. This park is surrounded on all sides by either light industrial establishments or low density housing.
Perhaps they are moving from the bush to become “townies”.