White Winged Choughs
One of our favourite species of bird here where we live in Murray Bridge South Australia is the White Winged Chough. At first glance, the inexperienced observer might dismiss them as a crow or raven or just another large black bird. We think differently of them.
We have a family of Choughs that has taken to visiting our garden almost on a daily basis. Walking “the estate” (we live on five acres of land) I often see little scratchings in the ground where they have been searching for some tasty morsel to eat.
Choughs are almost always seen in small family flocks numbering from about six or seven through to as many as twenty. Nesting is a communal or family affair. Most of the flock will contribute to the building of the bowl shaped mud nest. After the eggs hatch the whole family helps raise the chicks.
It always amuses me how this species often prefers to walk or hop along rather than expend their energy in flying. At times they can be quite unafraid of humans. I’ve stood in the middle of a flock of about a dozen as they continued to feed on the ground around me, just metres from where I stood.
I agree that White Winged Choughs are a real pleasure to spot and are plentiful around the southern suburbs of Canberra. Their social habits are fascinating and it always feels special to catch sight of them.
We love having them as daily visitors to our garden Anne. They can get a little noisy at times, especially when they have territorial disputes with the resident magpies.
I live in East Gippsland Victoria and have just noticed lots of choughs. I have heard they have a really interesting social life.will spend some time looking it up. You are lucky Trevor to have them in your backyard.I would LOVE to beable to watch them reguarly. For some reason they make me smile.
You are right Vicki – they are the clowns of the bird world in our garden.
I live in Quakers Hill New South Wales. Just a short while ago I heard a kufuffle in my garden. There were 7 large black birds being chastised by our resident magpies. They were low in the tree and bushes, hoping about them. They had a white patch under the wings. They looked remarkably like the male cole. However, I have seen choughs before but NEVER in our area (an outer suburbs of Sydney). Could it be that I have seen a group of choughs!? I too am delighted by these birds having witnessed them striding through a camping ground from top to end as if they owned the place! I generally have a great interest and delight in birds so I’m quite excited by this sighting. Excited and puzzled really. I know the weather’s extraordinary and I guess it will affect everything else. But choughs? Really!
Hi there Wendy,
Thanks for sharing your excitement as they are a great bird to have around. Ours fight regularly with the resident magpies and ravens.
Your puzzlement sent me researching this species. First I had to check where in Sydney you were – we’ve not been to Quakers Hill though I’d heard of it and been close. We’ve been on the M2 motorway many times when travelling to and from our son’s home in Artarmon, either from Lithgow/Richmond or from the south (Wagga/Canberra).
Your sighting sent me researching the distribution of WW Choughs. I haven’t seen any in the Sydney region myself, but the Atlas of Australian birds indicates they are resident in your area – widespread from Penrith through to Richmond. They tend to have quite large territories of 20 – 50 hectares (100+ acres) and constantly move around their territory except when nesting. I’m not totally surprised as the habitat seems quite suitable for them. Expanding housing in the area has historically seen a general decline in numbers, so it is good to hear they are still around.
Enjoy them – hope they return often.
Hi Trevor we live on 25 acres in cooks gap near Mudgee.These birds have taken to us quiet well they follow the wife when she feeds the ponies then will come and sit by the back door waiting for her to come out she gives them some mince.they have had 3 fledglings one has dropped out of the nest but it is protected by 3 body guards we have 2 flocks in our yard.