The Pied Currawongs are one of Castlemaine’s more native interesting birds.
From over the period covering at least the next month (from mid-August 2015), I am seeking any observations of this species from the Mount Alexander Shire.
For those living in and near the urban township of Castlemaine, their call is one of the commoner sounds of winter. Yet for those living further out of town on a farm or bush block, the Pied Currawong is typically either a rare visitor or not seen at all. It may be attracted to the small fruits and berries in Castlemaine parks and gardens that are ripe during winter. Peppercorn fruits seem to one of their favourites. (In 5 years of conducting more than 700 winter and spring bird surveys across bushlands and farms of the Mount Alexander Shire, Connecting Country has only recorded Pied Currawong on 2-3 occasions. In contrast, within my urban block in central Castlemaine, I have recorded it in 25 of 94 surveys over the same period).
There is strong evidence that they have benefited from the urbanisation of the landscape – and at the expense of other species. Habitat fragmentation and urbanisation makes it much easier for them to feed on the eggs and nestlings of small native birds, and other small vertebrates. For this reason, they are often regarded to be a menance, despite being a ‘native’.
However, over the months of spring and summer they seem to disappear from Castlemaine, and perhaps either move to the nearest part of the Great Dividing Range (e.g. Woodend, Daylesford) and/or into the Alpine area. Or maybe, its the cold of the mountains in winter that drives them here.
As a fairly large and obvious species that makes regular annual movements, it makes a good study tool for species changing their behaviour due to global warming. Are they arriving earlier and leaving later? Or vice versa?
I suspect that they are already departing from Castlemaine. If you could add a comment below for any Pied Currawongs that you see over the next month (approximate location, what date and how many), this would be much appreciated. I’ll write up the results in the club managazine.
Thanks, Chris (17 August 2015)
P.S. Here’s a link with stories and photos of Pied Currawongs on the BirdLife Australia website (CLICK HERE). There are also a number of stories about both the Pied Currawong (click) and the resident and widespread Grey Currawong on the Natural Newstead website.