The white-winged chough (Corcorax melanorhamphos) is one of only two surviving members of the Australian mud-nest builders family, Corcoracidae, and is the only member of the genus Corcorax. It is native to southern and eastern Australia and is an example of convergent evolution as it is only distantly related to the European choughs that it closely resembles in shape, and for which it was named.
The white-winged chough was first described by French naturalist Louis Jean Pierre Vieillot in 1817 as Coracia melanorhamphos, other names given include Pyrrhocorax leucopterus by Dutch zoologist Coenraad Jacob Temminck in 1820, and Corcorax australis by French naturalist René-Primevère Lesson in 1830. before the current name was settled by Gregory Mathews in 1912. The specific epithet is derived from the Ancient Greek words melano- 'black' and rhamphos 'beak'.
It is placed in the family known as the mud-nest builders or Corcoracidae, written as Grallinidae in older books before the removal of the genus Grallina to the family Monarchidae. It is one of two remaining species, with the apostlebird (Struthidea cinerea), which differs in appearance but exhibits many behavioural similarities. The mudnest builder family Corcoracidae itself is now placed in a narrower 'Core corvine' group, which contains the crows and ravens, shrikes, birds of paradise, fantails, monarch flycatchers, and drongos.
It is only distantly related to the European chough (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax), and Alpine chough (P. graculus), which are members of the crow family Corvidae. The similarities in appearance of dark plumage and downturned bill are the result of convergent evolution.
White-winged choughs are easily recognised but often mistaken for "crows" (such as the Australian raven). The white-winged chough is a large, black bird—at about 45 cm (18 in) only a little smaller than a raven or a little larger than an Australian magpie—but has red eyes and a finer, slightly down-curved beak, similar to a European chough. These red eyes become swollen and brighter in colour when the bird is excited. In flight the large white patches in the wings are immediately obvious, and explain the descriptive part of their common name.
Their calls consist primarily of a grating alarm call and a descending piping call. The latter call is diagnostic for the bird in the wild, being significantly different in timbre and melody to that of other birds sharing their habitat.
Flight is a mixture of a slow, deep flapping and short glides: unlike their European namesakes, white-winged choughs are not particularly strong or agile fliers and spend the great majority of their time on the ground, foraging methodically through leaf litter for worms, insects, grain, and snails in a loose group, walking with a distinctive swagger, and calling softly to one another every few seconds. A rich find is the cause of general excitement and all come running in to share in it. The family group walks several kilometers each day through its large territory, foraging as it goes, taking to the air only if disturbed.
Choughs are territorial and highly social, living in flocks of from about 4 up to about 20 birds, usually all the offspring of a single pair. Because raising of young is a group effort bands of chough may kidnap fledglings from other family groups so that they will be able to help them to raise their chicks next year.
The white-winged chough will forage in litter and rotten wood for termites and beetles. Although birds have eaten pieces of apple placed out for them on feeding tables, they have not been recorded eating fruit on trees. This species has been observed eating cherry tomatoes, whole, in eastern Australian, Newcastle region.
The diet is varied, the white-winged chough eats seeds of various grasses (Poaceae), Gahnia grandis, Atriplex, Epacris, Hibbertia, Solanum, Acacia and Exocarpos species, as well as introduced species such as the cursed thistle (Cirsium arvense), roadside thistle (C. vulgare), winter honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima), Convolvulus and Oxalis species. Berries of the introduced Cotoneaster and Crataegus are also consumed. It eats a wide variety of arthropods, including centipedes, millipedes and many types of insect—beetles, cockroaches, termites, grasshoppers and crickets, flies, butterflies and moths, and ants, bees and wasps. In some areas, it will readily approach tourist sites to find supplementary food.
Nesting and breeding is communal, all members of the family helping to raise the young - a process that takes several years, as young birds must learn the art of finding food in the dry Australian bush. Larger families have a better chance of breeding success: so much so that given the opportunity choughs will kidnap the youngsters of neighboring families in order to recruit them to the team: the more helpers the better!
Breeding season is from August to December. The nest is a deep cup-shaped structure made of grasses held together with mud or sometimes manure in a tree fork up to 10 metres above the ground. Three to five cream-coloured eggs sparsely splotched with dark brown and lavender shades are laid measuring 30 mm x 40 mm.
There is one report of white-winged choughs occupying and using a nest which was likely to have been built by the Australian magpie. However, this was unable to be confirmed as the nest was not witnessed being built.
All members of a family take turns to incubate, preen, and feed youngsters, and all cooperate in defending the nest against predators. However, the juveniles, who are highly inefficient foragers, have been observed to engage in deception; they bring food back to the nest and make to feed nestlings, but instead wait until unobserved, and then eat it themselves. This behaviour disappeared when food sources were artificially supplemented. There are three main threats to young choughs: starvation; predation by nest-robbing birds, particularly currawongs; and sabotage by neighbouring chough families anxious to protect their food supply by restricting competition. Larger family groups are better able to deal with all three threats.
There are usually White-winged Choughs stealing scraps from the tables.
David Attenborough, The Life of Birds, Episode 9, 35 mins ff.
The apostlebird (Struthidea cinerea), also known as the grey jumper, lousy jack or cwa bird is a quick-moving, gray or black bird about 13 inches (33 centimetres) long. It is a native to Australia where it roams woodlands, eating insects and seeds at, or near, ground level. Apostlebirds often travel in groups of about 12; for this reason they were named after the Biblical apostles, the twelve chief followers of Jesus Christ.Australian mudnester
Struthideidae is a family of passerine birds known as the Australian mudnesters. The family is often commonly called Corcoracidae, however this is the junior synonym. It contains just two species in two genera, the white-winged chough, Corcorax melanorhamphos, and the apostlebird Struthidea cinerea. Both are endemic to Australia.Brisbane Ranges National Park
The Brisbane Ranges National Park is a national park in the Barwon South West region of Victoria, Australia, The 7,718-hectare (19,070-acre) national park is situated approximately 80 kilometres (50 mi) west of Melbourne near the town of Meredith and is managed by Parks Victoria. The park covers part of the Brisbane Ranges, an area of hills of moderate elevation.Carnarvon Gorge
Carnarvon Gorge is located in the Southern Brigalow Belt bioregion in Central Queensland (Australia), 593 km northwest of Brisbane. Primarily created by water erosion, Carnarvon Gorge is around 30 kilometres long, located in Carnarvon National Park, and six hundred metres deep at the mouth. It is the most visited feature within Carnarvon National Park due to the diversity of experiences it contains and the ease with which it can be accessed. The closest towns are Injune and Rolleston.
In 2009 as part of the Q150 celebrations, the Carnarvon Gorge was announced as one of the Q150 Icons of Queensland for its role as a "Natural attraction".Chough
There are two species of passerine birds commonly called chough ( CHUF) that constitute the genus Pyrrhocorax of the Corvidae (crow) family of birds. These are the red-billed chough (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax), and the Alpine chough (or yellow-billed chough) (Pyrrhocorax graculus). The white-winged chough of Australia, despite its name, is not a true chough but rather a member of the family Corcoracidae and only distantly related.
The choughs have black plumage and brightly coloured legs, feet, and bills, and are resident in the mountains of southern Eurasia and North Africa. They have long broad wings and perform spectacular aerobatics. Both species pair for life and display fidelity to their breeding sites, which are usually caves or crevices in a cliff face. They build a lined stick nest and lay three to five eggs. They feed, usually in flocks, on short grazed grassland, taking mainly invertebrate prey, supplemented by vegetable material or food from human habitation, especially in winter.
Changes in agricultural practices, which have led to local population declines and range fragmentation, are the main threats to this genus, although neither species is threatened globally.Corvida
The "Corvida" were one of two "parvorders" contained within the suborder Passeri, as proposed in the Sibley-Ahlquist taxonomy, the other being Passerida. Standard taxonomic practice would place them at the rank of infraorder.
More recent research suggests that this is not a distinct clade—a group of closest relatives and nothing else—but an evolutionary grade instead. As such, it is abandoned in modern treatments, being replaced by a number of superfamilies that are considered rather basal among the Passeri.
It was presumed that cooperative breeding—present in many or most members of the Maluridae, Meliphagidae, Artamidae and Corvidae, among others—is a common apomorphy of this group. But as evidenced by the updated phylogeny, this trait is rather the result of parallel evolution, perhaps because the early Passeri had to compete against many ecologically similar birds (see near passerine).Corvoidea
Corvoidea is a superfamily of birds in the order of Passeriformes. It contains the following families:
Paramythiidae: tit berrypecker and crested berrypeckers
Psophodidae: whipbirds, jewel-babblers and quail-thrushes
Platysteiridae: wattle-eyes and batiss
Tephrodornithidae: woodshrikes and allies
Pityriaseidae: Bornean bristlehead
Artamidae: butcherbirds, currawongs and Australian magpie (formerly in Cracticidae)
Rhagologidae: mottled whistler
Campephagidae: cuckooshrikes and trillers
Oreoicidae: Australo-Papuan bellbirds
Pachycephalidae: whistlers, shrike-thrushes, pitohuis and allies
Oriolidae: orioles, figbirds and †piopio (formerly Turnagridae)
Monarchidae: monarchs and allies
Corvidae: crows, magpies, and jays
Corcoracidae: white-winged chough and apostlebird
Paradisaeidae: birds of paradiseEttrick Conservation Park
Ettrick Conservation Park is a protected area located in the Australian state of South Australia in the locality of Ettrick about 80 kilometres (50 mi) east of the state capital of Adelaide and about 24 kilometres (15 mi) north-east of the city of Murray Bridge.The conservation park consists of crown land described as “Allotment 99 in Deposited Plan 26809” in the cadastral unit of the Hundred of Ettrick. It came into existence on 31 October 2013 by proclamation under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972. It is named after the Hundred of Ettrick. A separate proclamation on 31 October 2013 ensured the continuation of “existing rights of entry, prospecting, exploration or mining” regarding the land under the Mining Act 1971 and the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Act 2000. As of 2016, it covered an area of 4.79 square kilometres (1.85 sq mi).
In 2013, it was described by Ian Hunter, then Minister of Sustainability, Environment and Conservation to The Murray Valley Standard as follows:… the park would be an important refuge for species such as malleefowl and regent parrot. "Most of the park is open mallee, which is made up of several species of eucalypt, but it is also home to one of the few remaining examples of tussock grassland in this part of the Murray-Darling Basin," … "This area is listed as critically endangered, so it's vital we do everything we can to protect it." It is also home to birds including the shy heathwren, hooded robin, white-winged chough, jacky winter, restless flycatcher and painted buttonquail.
The conservation park is classified as an IUCN Category VI protected area.Grallinidae
The Grallinidae was a presumed family of passerine birds.
The four species that were formerly considered to be Grallinidae were:
the magpie-lark (Grallina cyanoleuca)
the torrent-lark (Grallina bruijni)
the white-winged chough (Corcorax melanorhamphos)
the apostlebird (Struthidea cinerea)The first two of these are now often assigned to the Dicruridae family, although some people still classify them in a separate family. The latter two form the Corcoracidae family.Ground cuckooshrike
The ground cuckoo-shrike (Coracina maxima) is an uncommon bird species endemic to Australia, occurring mainly in open woodland and arid grasslands throughout inland Australia, but also occasionally in areas on the east coast.Handbook of the Birds of the World
The Handbook of the Birds of the World (HBW) is a multi-volume series produced by the Spanish publishing house Lynx Edicions in partnership with BirdLife International. It is the first handbook to cover every known living species of bird. The series is edited by Josep del Hoyo, Andrew Elliott, Jordi Sargatal and David A. Christie.
All 16 volumes have been published. For the first time an animal class will have all the species illustrated and treated in detail in a single work. This has not been done before for any other group in the animal kingdom.
Material in each volume is grouped first by family, with an introductory article on each family; this is followed by individual species accounts (taxonomy, subspecies and distribution, descriptive notes, habitat, food and feeding, breeding, movements, status and conservation, bibliography). In addition, all volumes except the first and second contain an essay on a particular ornithological theme. More than 200 renowned specialists and 35 illustrators (including Toni Llobet, Hilary Burn, Chris Rose and H. Douglas Pratt) from more than 40 countries have contributed to the project up to now, as well as 834 photographers from all over the world.
Since the first volume appeared in 1992, the series has received various international awards. The first volume was selected as Bird Book of the Year by the magazines Birdwatch and British Birds, and the fifth volume was recognised as Outstanding Academic Title by Choice Magazine, the American Library Association magazine. The seventh volume, as well as being named Bird Book of the Year by Birdwatch and British Birds, also received the distinction of Best Bird Reference Book in the 2002 WorldTwitch Book Awards This same distinction was also awarded to Volume 8 a year later in 2003.Individual volumes are large, measuring 32 by 25 centimetres (12.6 by 9.8 in), and weighing between 4 and 4.6 kilograms (8.8 and 10.1 lb); it has been commented in a review that "fork-lift truck book" would be a more appropriate title.
As a complement to the Handbook of the Birds of the World and with the ultimate goal of disseminating knowledge about the world's avifauna, in 2002 Lynx Edicions started the Internet Bird Collection (IBC). It is a free-access, but not free-licensed, on-line audiovisual library of the world's birds with the aim of posting videos, photos and sound recordings showing a variety of biological aspects (e.g. subspecies, plumages, feeding, breeding, etc.) for every species. It is a non-profit endeavour fuelled by material from more than one hundred contributors from around the world.
In early 2013, Lynx Edicions launched the online database HBW Alive, which includes the volume and family introductions and updated species accounts from all 17 published HBW volumes. Since its launch, the taxonomy has been thoroughly revised and updated twice (once for non-passerines and once for passerines), following the publication of the two volumes of the HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World.
The Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive site also provides a free access 'Key to Scientific Names in Ornithology'.List of endemic birds of Australia
This article is one of a series providing information about endemism among birds in the world's various zoogeographic zones. For an overview of this subject see Endemism in birds.Long-tailed tit
The long-tailed tit or long-tailed bushtit (Aegithalos caudatus), occasionally referred to as the silver-throated tit or silver-throated dasher, is a common bird found throughout Europe and Asia. The genus name Aegithalos was a term used by Aristotle for some European tits, including the long-tailed tit.Monarch flycatcher
The monarchs (family Monarchidae) comprise a family of over 100 passerine birds which includes shrikebills, paradise flycatchers, and magpie-larks.
Monarchids are small insectivorous songbirds with long tails. They inhabit forest or woodland across sub-Saharan Africa, south-east Asia, Australasia and a number of Pacific islands. Only a few species migrate. Many species decorate their cup-shaped nests with lichen.Mullum Mullum Creek
Mullum Mullum Creek is a creek in the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. It is the main watercourse of the Mullum Mullum Valley, a tributary of the Yarra River and Yarra Valley. For tens of thousands of years it was used as a food and tool source sustainably by the Wurundjeri people, Indigenous Australians of the Kulin nation, who spoke variations of the Woiwurrung language group.
It is one of the only watercourses lying within urban metropolitan Melbourne that is surrounded by native and regenerated bushland for almost its entire length, and is a significant remnant ecosystem in Melbourne. Around 80,000 people live in the creek's catchment area. The remnant bushland across its length provides habitat for significant species such as platypus, rakali, koalas, powerful owl, nankeen night heron, white-winged chough and yellow-tailed black cockatoo.
In recent decades the creek and valley has been central in many of issues in Melbourne's eastern suburbs, such as; residential housing estates, regeneration of native vegetation and most recently, Tollway construction. The Eastlink Tollway passes underneath the valley through 1.5-km of tunnels to avoid disturbing the remnant ecosystem through the Mullum Mullum Gorge, however through Ringwood, it crosses the creek above ground, resulting in the relocation of the creek through this area.Passerine
A passerine is any bird of the order Passeriformes, which includes more than half of all bird species. Sometimes known as perching birds or – less accurately – as songbirds, passerines are distinguished from other orders of birds by the arrangement of their toes (three pointing forward and one back), which facilitates perching, amongst other features specific to their evolutionary history in Australaves.
With more than 140 families and some 6,600 identified species, Passeriformes is the largest order of birds and among the most diverse orders of terrestrial vertebrates. Passerines are divided into three suborders: Acanthisitti (New Zealand wrens), Tyranni (suboscines) and Passeri (oscines).The passerines contain several groups of brood parasites such as the viduas, cuckoo-finches, and the cowbirds. Most passerines are omnivorous, while the shrikes are carnivorous.
The terms "passerine" and "Passeriformes" are derived from the scientific name of the house sparrow, Passer domesticus, and ultimately from the Latin term passer, which refers to sparrows and similar small birds.Songbird
A songbird is a bird belonging to the clade Passeri of the perching birds (Passeriformes). Another name that is sometimes seen as a scientific or vernacular name is Oscines, from Latin oscen, "a songbird". This group contains 5000 or so species found all over the world, in which the vocal organ typically is developed in such a way as to produce a diverse and elaborate bird song.
Songbirds form one of the two major lineages of extant perching birds, the other being the Tyranni, which are most diverse in the Neotropics and absent from many parts of the world. The Tyranni have a simpler syrinx musculature, and while their vocalizations are often just as complex and striking as those of songbirds, they are altogether more mechanical sounding. There is a third perching bird lineage, the Acanthisitti from New Zealand, of which only two species remain alive today.
Some evidence suggests that songbirds evolved 50 million years ago in the part of Gondwana that later became India, Sri Lanka, Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea and Antarctica, before spreading around the world.Wolseley Common Conservation Park
Wolseley Common Conservation Park is a protected area located in the Australian state of South Australia in the locality of Wolseley about 260 kilometres (160 mi) south-east of the state capital of Adelaide, about 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) south-east of the town of Bordertown and immediately adjoining the south-west side of the town of Wolseley.The conservation park consists of the following crown land in the cadastral unit of the Hundred of Tatiara which previously was the “former parklands and closed road reserves on the western and southern sides” of the town of Wolseley - Allotment 100 of DP 53044, Allotment 1 of DP 55986, Allotments 50, 51 and 52 of DP 28840, Pieces 20 and 21 of FP 218022, and Section 1013. It is divided into two parts by the alignment of West Terrace and its continuation as Teatrick Road to the south-west.It came into existence on 29 November 2001 by proclamation under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 to protect both “the nationally threatened Buloke Woodland” which is “one of the last remaining in South Australia” and the “plant and fauna species of conservation significance” located within its boundaries. As of 2016, it covered an area of 24 hectares (59 acres).The land within the conservation park was part of the parklands around the town of Wolseley (then known as Tatiara) proclaimed on 8 May 1884. The parklands had a history of being used for “depasturing animals, firewood gathering and rubbish dumping.” During World War 2, part of the land in the western parkland was cleared to create a “sports oval” with a cycling and running track on its perimeter. By the 1960s, the land now under protection “was reported to have been reduced to bare ground with only a few scattered Buloke trees…” However, the decline of Wolseley as a railway town reduced the above-mentioned impacts on the land with the subsequent regeneration of the native vegetation.In 2006, the conservation park was described as follows:
It has an “intact remnant of Buloke (Allocasuarina luehmannii) Low Woodland” with an understorey which “retains a high diversity of native grasses, sedges and herbaceous species” and was considered to be “the best example of a remaining pure Buloke Low Woodland ecosystem on gilgai soil in South Australia.”
It had “at least 68 native plant species” of which eleven species were listed as threatened under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972.
It had “at least 30 bird species” including the following seven species having “a conservation rating within the South East region” - yellow thornbill (Acanthiza nana modesta), white-winged chough (Corcorax melanorhamphos whitaea), red-capped robin (Petroica goodenovii), collared sparrowhawk (Accipiter cirrhocephalus), sulphur-crested cockatoo (Cacatua galerita) and long-billed corella (Cacatua tenuirostris).
It had six reptile species including the Olive Snake-lizard (Delma inornata) which is listed as rare in South Australia.
The only native mammal recorded to date is the Fat-tailed dunnart (Sminthopsis crassicaudata).As of 2006, visitation was limited to ‘casual’ use by low residents.The conservation park is classified as an IUCN Category III protected area.