Pied Currawongs


It's winter in Melbourne, and there are signs of it everywhere. We've had some rain - not enough, I hear, but some. It's also getting cold at night (which appeals to the astronomer in me). But there's another, less welcome, sign of winter.

I assume most birdos will have noticed the presence of Pied Currawongs in Melbourne. I love their call, which someone once told me was "come on, Geelong"! For some reason I always associate the call with camping up at Lake Catani on Mount Buffalo in summers.

Historically, Pied Currawongs would breed in higher altitudes, like the Great Divide and the Grampians. In winter they would come to lower altitudes, probably to escape the worst of the cold and snow, so you'd see them on the coast.

In those days, we hardly ever saw Currawongs on the coast. But over time, they have developed a habit for wintering in the city, to the point where they're becoming a bit of a pest. Not only do they compete with smaller birds for creepy-crawlies, they actively predate other birds' nests.

I hear it's an even worse situation in Sydney, where Pied Currawongs can be seen all year round.

Some attempts have been made to "manage" some populations of the Pied Currawong (nice euphemism, that). However, simply removing them probably won't have much effect - they'll just come back. Efforts are going to have to centre on removing what attracts them in the first place. This includes looking closely at what we plant in our own gardens. Currawongs like berry-producing plants, especially those that fruit in winter.

The problem is, so do a lot of gardeners.

I don't know what climate change is going to do to Currawongs' habits. I think there's a good chance that they have decided that the cuisine is better in Melbourne.

Who knows, maybe in the future we'll hear less "come on, Geelong" and more "I'll have a double-shot cappuccino"?

I took this photo of the Pied Currawong in the Grevillea Robusta in my own street while out walking the dog the other day.