Currawongs are three species of medium-sized passerine birds belonging to the genus Strepera in the family Artamidae native to Australasia. These are the grey currawong (Strepera versicolor), pied currawong (S. graculina), and black currawong (S. fuliginosa). The common name comes from the call of the familiar pied currawong of eastern Australia and is onomatopoeic. They were formerly known as crow-shrikes or bell-magpies. Despite their resemblance to crows and ravens, they are only distantly related to the corvidae, instead belonging to an Afro-Asian radiation of birds of superfamily Malaconotoidea.

The true currawongs are a little larger than the Australian magpie, smaller than the ravens (except possibly the little raven, which is only slightly larger on average), but broadly similar in appearance. They are easily distinguished by their yellow eyes, in contrast to the red eyes of a magpie and white eyes of Australian crows and ravens. Currawongs are also characterised by the hooked tips of their long, sharply pointed beaks.[1] They are not as terrestrial as the magpie and have shorter legs. They are omnivorous, foraging in foliage, on tree trunks and limbs, and on the ground, taking insects and larvae (often dug out from under the bark of trees), fruit, and the nestlings of other birds. They are distinguishable from magpies and crows by their comical flight style in amongst foliage, appearing to almost fall about from branch to branch as if they were inept flyers.

Strepera fuliginosa 1
Black currawong, Fortescue Bay, Tasman Peninsula
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Artamidae
Genus: Strepera
Lesson, 1831
  • Strepera graculina
  • Strepera versicolor
  • Strepera fuliginosa

Taxonomy and evolution

Ornithologist Richard Bowdler Sharpe held that currawongs were more closely related to crows and ravens than the Australian magpie and butcherbirds, and duly placed them in the Corvidae.[2] A review of the family Cracticidae by ornithologist John Albert Leach in 1914, during which he had studied their musculature, found that all three genera were closely related.[3] Ornithologists Charles Sibley and Jon Ahlquist recognised the close relationship between the woodswallows and the butcherbirds and relatives in 1985, and combined them into a Cracticini clade,[4] which later became the family Artamidae in the official Australian checklist in 2008.[5] The International Ornithologists’ Union has maintained the two clades as separate families, hence currawongs are listed along with butcherbirds, magpie and Peltops.[6]

The family Cracticidae has its greatest diversity in Australia, which suggests that the radiation of its insectivorous and scavenger members to occupy various niches took place there. The butcherbirds became predators of small animals, much like the northern hemisphere shrikes, while the Australian magpie became a predominantly ground-hunting omnivore, with the currawongs generally hunting in both living and fallen trees, scavenging and hunting insects and small vertebrates, and occupying in Australia the niche of many Eurasian corvids.[7]

Currawongs and indeed all members of the broader Artamidae are part of a larger group of African shrike-like birds including bushshrikes (Malaconotidae), helmetshrikes (Prionopidae), ioras (Aegithinidae), and vangas (Vangidae), which were defined as the superfamily Malaconotoidea by Cacraft and colleagues in 2004.[8] They are thus only distantly related to crows and ravens, which are in a separate superfamily Corvoidea.[9]

Species and races

Although there are several distinct forms, the number of species has varied between two and seven, with three currently recognised. (In 1870 the Gardens of the Zoological Society of London had a living specimen of each of the three species.[10]) Several subspecies of the grey currawong are fairly distinctive and described on that species page.

  • S. fuliginosa - black jay or black currawong
    • S. fuliginosa colei - King Island black currawong
    • S. fuliginosa parvior - Flinders Island black currawong
  • S. graculina - pied currawong
    • S. graculina graculina
    • S. graculina ashbyi - western Victorian pied currawong
    • S. graculina crissalis - Lord Howe currawong
    • S. graculina magnirostris
    • S. graculina robinsoni
    • S. graculina nebulosa
  • S. versicolor a complex, including:
    • S. versicolor versicolor - grey currawong
    • S. versicolor intermedia - brown currawong
    • S. versicolor plumbea - grey currawong (WA)
    • S. versicolor halmaturina - grey currawong (Kangaroo Island)
    • S. versicolor arguta - clinking currawong or black magpie
    • S. versicolor melanoptera - black-winged currawong


The term currawong itself is derived from the call of the pied currawong.[11] However, the exact origin of term is unclear; the most likely antecedent is the word garrawaŋ from the indigenous Jagera language from the Brisbane region, although the Dharug word gurawaruŋ from the Sydney basin is a possibility.[12] Yungang as well as kurrawang and kurrawah are names from the Tharawal people of the Illawarra region.[13]


The three currawong species are sombre-plumaged dark grey or black birds with large bills. They resemble crows and ravens, although are slimmer in build with longer tails, booted tarsi[7] and white pages on their wings and tails.[14] Their flight is undulating. Male birds have longer bills than females, the reason for which is unknown but suggests differentiation in feeding technique.[7]

Distribution and habitat

Currawongs are protected in NSW under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974.


Currawongs are dominant birds that can drive off other species, especially when settling around an area used or inhabited by people.[14] They have been known to migrate to towns and cities during the winter.[15] Birds congregate in loose flocks.[14]

The female builds the nest and incubates the young alone, although both parents feed them. The nests are somewhat flimsy for birds their size.[7]


  1. ^ Amazing Facts about Australian Birds, by Karin Cox and Steve Parish, Steve Parish Publishing, 2008.
  2. ^ Sharpe, Richard Bowdler (1877). Catalogue of the Passeriformes, or Perching Birds, in the Collection of the British Museum. Coliomorphae containing the families Corvidae, Paradisaeidae, Oriolidae, Dicruridae, and Prionopidae. London: by Order of the Trustees. pp. 57–61. Retrieved 15 May 2010.
  3. ^ Leach, John Albert (1914). "The myology of the Bell-Magpie (Strepera) and its position in classification". Emu. 14 (1): 2–38. doi:10.1071/MU914002.
  4. ^ Sibley, Charles G.; Ahlquist, Jon E. (1985). "The phylogeny and classification of Australo-Papuan passerine birds" (PDF). Emu. 85 (1): 1–14. doi:10.1071/MU9850001.
  5. ^ Christidis, Les; Boles, Walter E. (2008). Systematics and Taxonomy of Australian Birds. Canberra: CSIRO Publishing. p. 196. ISBN 978-0-643-06511-6.
  6. ^ Gill, Frank; Donsker, David, eds. (2012). "Batises to shrikes". IOC World Bird Names (v 3.2). International Ornithologists’ Union. Archived from the original on 13 February 2009. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
  7. ^ a b c d Schodde, Richard; Mason, Ian J. (1999). The Directory of Australian Birds: Passerines. A Taxonomic and Zoogeographic Atlas of the Biodiversity of Birds in Australia and its Territories. Collingwood, Australia: CSIRO Publishing. p. 532.
  8. ^ Cracraft, Joel, Barker F. Keith, Braun, Michael, Harshman, John, Dyke, Gareth J., Feinstein, Julie, Stanley, Scott, Cibois, Alice, Schikler, Peter, Beresford, Pamela, García-Moreno, Jaime, Sorenson, Michael D., Yuri, Tamaki, Mindell, David P. (2004). "Phylogenetic relationships among modern birds (Neornithes): toward an avian tree of life". In Cracraft J, Donoghue MJ (eds.). Assembling the tree of life. New York, New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 468–89. ISBN 0-19-517234-5.
  9. ^ Christidis, Les; Boles, Walter E. (2008). Systematics and Taxonomy of Australian Birds. Canberra: CSIRO Publishing. p. 172. ISBN 978-0-643-06511-6.
  10. ^ "Sooty Crow-shrike". Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London: 270. 12 May 1870.
  11. ^ Higgins, Peter Jeffrey; Peter, John M.; Cowling SJ, eds. (2006). Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. Vol. 7: Boatbill to Starlings. Melbourne: Oxford University Press. p. 530. ISBN 978-0-19-553996-7.
  12. ^ Dixon, Robert Malcolm Ward (1992). Australian Aboriginal Words in English. Oxford University Press. p. 90. ISBN 0-19-553394-1.
  13. ^ Wesson, Sue (August 2005). "Murni Dhugang Jirrar: Living in the Illawarra" (PDF). Department of Environment, Climate Change, and Water. Department of Environment, Climate Change, and Water, State Government of New South Wales. p. 81. Retrieved 22 February 2010.
  14. ^ a b c Wade Peter, ed. (1977). Every Australian Bird Illustrated. Adelaide, South Australia: Rigby. p. 292. ISBN 0-7270-0009-8.
  15. ^ Slater, Peter (1974). A Field Guide to Australian Birds:Non-passerines. Adelaide, South Australia: Rigby. p. 277. ISBN 0-85179-813-6.

External links


Artamidae is a family of passerine birds found in Australia, the Indo-Pacific region, and Southern Asia. It includes 24 extant species in six genera and three subfamilies: Peltopsinae (with one genus, the peltops), Artaminae (with one genus, the woodswallows) and Cracticinae (currawongs, butcherbirds and the Australian magpie). Artamids used to be monotypic, containing only the woodswallows, but it was expanded to include the family Cracticidae in 1994. Some authors, however, still treat the two as separate families. Some species in this family are known for their beautiful song. Their feeding habits vary from nectar sucking (woodswallows) to predation on small birds (pied currawong).

Black currawong

The black currawong (Strepera fuliginosa), also known locally as the black jay, is a large passerine bird endemic to Tasmania and the nearby islands within the Bass Strait. One of three currawong species in the genus Strepera, it is closely related to the butcherbirds and Australian magpie within the family Artamidae. It is a large crow-like bird, around 50 cm (20 in) long on average, with yellow irises, a heavy bill, and black plumage with white wing patches. The male and female are similar in appearance. Three subspecies are recognised, one of which, Strepera fuliginosa colei of King Island, is vulnerable to extinction.

Within its range, the black currawong is generally sedentary, although populations at higher altitudes relocate to lower areas during the cooler months. The habitat includes densely forested areas as well as alpine heathland. It is rare below altitudes of 200 m (660 ft). Omnivorous, it has a diet that includes a variety of berries, invertebrates, and small vertebrates. Less arboreal than the pied currawong, the black currawong spends more time foraging on the ground. It roosts and breeds in trees.

Bronzewing-class harbour tug

The Bronzewing-class harbour tug was a class of four tugs constructed for the Royal Australian Navy.

Bronzewing (HTS 501)

Currawong (HTS 502)

HTS 503

Mollymawk (HTS 504)HTS 503 was given to Papua New Guinea in 1974. They were constructed by Stannard Bros, Sydney, except for HTS Mollymawk (504), that was constructed by Perris Engineering, Brisbane.

Bronzewing and Currawong are currently on loan to the Sydney Heritage Fleet, where they are often used in support of the James Craig and other heritage ships in the Fleet.


Butcherbirds are Australian magpie-like birds. Most are found in the genus Cracticus, but the black butcherbird is placed in the monotypic genus Melloria. They are native to Australasia. Together with three species of currawong and two species of peltops, butcherbirds and the Australian magpie form the subfamily Cracticinae in the family Artamidae.

Butcherbirds are large songbirds, being between 30 and 40 cm (12–16 in) in length. Their colour ranges from black-and-white to mostly black with added grey plumage, depending on the species. They have a large, straight bill with a distinctive hook at the end which is used to skewer prey. They have high-pitched complex songs, which are used to defend their essentially year-round group territories: unlike birds of extratropical Eurasia and the Americas, both sexes sing prolifically.Butcherbirds are insect eaters for the most part, but will also feed on small lizards and other vertebrates. They get their name from their habit of impaling captured prey on a thorn, tree fork, or crevice. This "larder" is used to support the victim while it is being eaten, to store prey for later consumption, or to attract mates.

Butcherbirds are the ecological counterparts of the shrikes, mainly found in Eurasia and Africa, which are only distantly related, but share the "larder" habit; shrikes are also sometimes called "butcherbirds". Butcherbirds live in a variety of habitats from tropical rainforest to arid shrubland. Like many similar species, they have adapted well to urbanisation and can be found in leafy suburbs throughout Australia. They are opportunistic, showing little fear and readily taking food offerings to the point of becoming semi-tame.

Female butcherbirds lay between two and five eggs in a clutch, with the larger clutch sizes in more open-country species. Except in the rainforest-dwelling hooded and black butcherbirds, cooperative breeding occurs, with many individuals delaying dispersal to rear young. The nest is made from twigs, high up in a fork of a tree. The young will remain with their mother until almost fully grown. They tend to trail behind their mother and "squeak" incessantly while she catches food for them.


The Cracticinae, bellmagpies and allies, gathers together 12 species of mostly crow-like birds native to Australasia and nearby areas.

Historically, the cracticines – currawongs, Australian magpie and butcherbirds – were seen as a separate family Cracticidae and, according to the 2018 Cements List, they still are. With their 1985 DNA study, Sibley and Ahlquist recognised the close relationship between the woodswallows and the butcherbirds in 1985, and placed them in a Cracticini clade, now the family Artamidae. The two species of peltops were once placed with the monarch flycatchers but are now placed here.The cracticines have large, straight bills and mostly black, white or grey plumage. All are omnivorous to some degree: the butcherbirds mostly eat meat; Australian magpies usually forage through short grass looking for worms and other small creatures; and currawongs are true omnivores, taking fruit, grain, meat, insects, eggs and nestlings. The female constructs bulky nests from sticks, and both parents help incubate the eggs and raise the young thereafter.The cracticines, despite their fairly plain, utilitarian appearance, are highly intelligent and have extraordinarily beautiful songs of great subtlety. Particularly noteworthy are the pied butcherbird, the pied currawong and the Australian magpie.

Currawong, New South Wales

Currawong, New South Wales, is rural locality of Hilltops Council and is a civil parish of Harden County, New South Wales.Currawong is located at 34°27′54″S 148°22′04″E on Currawong Creek. The nearest towns are Harden, New South Wales to the south and Wombat, New South Wales to the west.

Currawong Beach

Currawong Beach is a suburb in northern Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, Australia. Currawong Beach is 42 kilometres (26 mi) north of the Sydney central business district, in the local government area of Northern Beaches Council.Currawong Beach is located on the edge of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, on the western shores of Pittwater, beside Great Mackerel Beach and north of The Basin. Coasters Retreat and Palm Beach are located nearby.

Currawong Bush Park

Currawong Bush Park is an important riparian bushland park, located in the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne on the borders of Doncaster East, Warrandyte and Donvale, on the eastern bank of the Mullum Mullum Creek. The park is important for a number of reasons, it comprises 59 hectares of remnant bushland and hosts many archaeological sites concerning the pre-European inhabitants of the area.

The major threats to the park's ecology are introduced species of flora and fauna such as foxes, rabbits, dogs and cats. It is a popular destination for school and community groups and is frequented by local bush walkers. It once housed a group of kangaroos in its wildlife enclosure, however due to funding cuts, the park can no longer be managed full-time by a park ranger and the enclosure was closed.

Currawong Workers' Holiday Camp

The Currawong Workers' Holiday Camp is a heritage-listed former farm and now workers' holiday camp located at Currawong Beach, Northern Beaches Council, New South Wales, Australia. It was designed by various parties including the Van Dyke Brothers, Hudsen's Homes and built in 1950. The property is also known as Little Mackerel, Labor Council's Holiday Resort, Unions NSW Currawong Holiday Cottages, and Midholme and Coaster's Retreat. The property is Crown land and owned by the Government of New South Wales. The property was added to the New South Wales State Heritage Register on 12 May 2009.

Great Mackerel Beach, New South Wales

Great Mackerel Beach is a suburb about 43 kilometres north of the Sydney central business district, from 2016 in the local government area of Northern Beaches Council, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, formerly part of Pittwater Council. It is on the western shores of Pittwater in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, beside Currawong Beach, and near Coasters Retreat and Palm Beach. The population was 36 at the 2016 census; the median age was 66, with an average of 0.3 children per family and an average of 2 people per household. The population was 301 at the 2011 census, and 103 in 2006. Currently there are 55 permanent residents in 27 properties, with many additional residents occupying properties throughout school holidays and weekends.

Great Mackerel Beach is frequently referred to as Mackerel Beach or [Great] Mackeral Beach, although the spelling "Mackerel" is becoming standard.Nearby Currawong Beach is sometimes called Little Mackerel Beach.

Grey currawong

The grey currawong (Strepera versicolor) is a large passerine bird native to southern Australia, including Tasmania. One of three currawong species in the genus Strepera, it is closely related to the butcherbirds and Australian magpie of the family Artamidae. It is a large crow-like bird, around 48 cm (19 in) long on average, with yellow irises, and a heavy bill, and dark plumage with white undertail and wing patches. The male and female are similar in appearance. Six subspecies are recognised and are distinguished by overall plumage colour, which ranges from slate-grey for the nominate from New South Wales and eastern Victoria and subspecies plumbea from Western Australia, to sooty black for the clinking currawong of Tasmania and subspecies halmaturina from Kangaroo Island. All grey currawongs have a loud distinctive ringing or clinking call.

Within its range, the grey currawong is generally sedentary, although it is a winter visitor in the southeastern corner of Australia. Comparatively little studied, much of its behaviour and habits is poorly known. Omnivorous, it has a diet that includes a variety of berries, invertebrates, and small vertebrates. Less arboreal than the pied currawong, the grey currawong spends more time foraging on the ground. It builds nests high in trees, which has limited the study of its breeding habits. Unlike its more common relative, it has adapted poorly to human impact and has declined in much of its range. The habitat includes all kinds of forested areas as well as scrubland in dryer parts of the country.

Ingleburn, New South Wales

Ingleburn is a suburb of Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, Australia 40 kilometres south-west of the Sydney central business district, in the local government area of City of Campbelltown. It is part of the Macarthur region. Ingleburn is located approximately halfway between the two commercial centres of Liverpool and Campbelltown.

Lord Howe currawong

The Lord Howe currawong (Strepera graculina crissalis), Lord Howe Island currawong or Lord Howe pied currawong, is a large and mainly black passerine bird in the Artamidae family. It is endemic to Lord Howe Island in the Tasman Sea, part of New South Wales, Australia, and is a threatened subspecies of the pied currawong.


Naradhan is a village and locality in the Central West region of New South Wales Australia. The locality is 452 kilometres (281 mi) from Sydney, the state capital. Naradhan is within the Bland Shire local government area. The village was proclaimed in 1930, and features a shop, primary school, public hall, and the now disused railway station. The town was named after Naradhan a grazing run that was in term probably named for the Wiradjuri term "ngarradan" meaning "bat".At the 2011 census, Naradhan had a population of 166 (51.2% males and 48.8% females) with an average age of 39 years. 95.2% of the population is Australian-born and 100% speak English as a first language. The main religions are Anglican (34.5%) and Catholic (22.6%) and the median household income is $1097.00 per week.

The village is located on Naradhan Creek. Naradhan Creek starts below Mount Mologone at an elevation of 204m and drops around 57.6m over its 9.51km length.

The locality is roughly equivalent to the cadastral parishes of Womboyne, Jimberoo, and Currawong in the county of Dowling. The area is bordered by the towns of Lake Cargelligo to the north and Rankins Springs to the south. Although predominantly flat and cleared for agriculture, significant geographic features include a number of mesa in the southern portion as well as the Jimberoo and Conapaira State forests. There are also significant mineral deposits in the north of Naradhan, including gold, lead, and tin.

The Naradhan railway line was opened in 1929.

Pied currawong

The pied currawong (Strepera graculina) is a medium-sized black passerine bird native to eastern Australia and Lord Howe Island. One of three currawong species in the genus Strepera, it is closely related to the butcherbirds and Australian magpie of the family Artamidae. Six subspecies are recognised.

Pixie O'Harris

Pixie O'Harris (born Rhona Olive Harris; 15 October 1903 – 17 November 1991) was a Welsh-born Australian artist, newspaper, magazine and book illustrator, author, broadcaster, caricaturist and cartoonist, designer of book plates, sheet music covers and stationery, and children's hospital ward fairy-style mural painter. She became patron to Sydney's Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children in 1977.

Saproscincus spectabilis

Saproscinus spectabilis known as the pale-lipped shade skink is a small lizard found in Queensland and New South Wales, Australia. The habitat is cool, shaded gullies where it feeds on small insects. It may be seen on sunny rocky outcrops within gullies. Ground cover and rocky cracks are required to avoid predation from birds such as the kookaburra and pied currawong.

The Silver Brumby

The Silver Brumby is an Australian animated children's television series written by Jon Stephens, Judy Malmgren and Paul Williams based on Elyne Mitchell's Silver Brumby books. A total of 39 episodes were produced by Media World Features between 1994 and 1998 and was originally broadcast on Network Ten.

Tony Kelly (politician)

Anthony Bernard Kelly (born 25 August 1948) is an Australian former politician, who was a Member of the New South Wales Legislative Council representing the Labor Party from 1997 until 2011.

Following an investigation by the Independent Commission Against Corruption in 2011, it was found that Kelly engaged in corrupt conduct during the government purchase of a beach property in northern Sydney. Kelly did not face criminal charges.


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