PIED CURRAWONG (Strepera graculina)

I mentioned the bird name Currawong a couple of posts previously when talking about the Australian Ravens I’d seen down in the seaside suburb of Altona 3 weeks ago.

I managed to find my (only) 2 photos of what I believe is a Pied Currawong (Strepera craculina) in my archives.  Now that I’ve found these images made in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne on 6th December 2013 I’ve given them a folder all of their own in my Archives so these images will be easy to find if I need them again.

Pied Currawong (Strepera graculina)

I imagine they were random shots of what I thought was a crow at the time and not particularly good, (as far as Bird photos go), but the second image does show the yellow eye more clearly.

It’s a large crow-like bell-magpie.  Generally black, with a heavy black beak.

Distinguished by contrasting white base and tip to tail. white under-tail coverts, and striking white patch in the wing particularly conspicuous in flight.   The eye is strikingly yellow and this should have alerted me to the fact that it wasn’t a crow at the time of shooting.

The immature is a duller grey-brown, with dark eye according to my Photographic Field Guide Birds of Australia by Jim Flegg.

They have a varied tunefully mellow whistle, plus harsh shrieks and variants of ‘currawock’ and ‘currawong’ and while they’re essentially a forest bird, they’ve adapted to well-treed farms, scrub and city parks and gardens.   I managed to find a very short YouTube of a Black Currawong call.

I’ve been listening to a cacophony of bird sounds outside my lounge windows this morning, broken by the sweet chirping of the Superb Fairy-wrens.   I wish I could see which bird(s) have made a home in the Eucalyptus tree next to my apartment balcony fence, but the foliage is too dense as you can see in the image I just made below.

20 minutes ago, the same(?) young female House Sparrow was sitting on the partition that divides my apartment balcony from the balcony next door (below).

This is an even harder shot due to the louvred set of windows on the right-hand side of my floor-to-ceiling windows in front of my desk.   It’s quite hard to hold the heavy long telephoto lens and DSLR pointing upwards right between the glass panes.   Fortunately, I opened all my windows and door wide open when I got up this morning to let fresh air in.     It’s much easier to hold the heavy lens horizontal with my elbows leaning on my desk when birds actually land on my balcony.

I much prefer images of the birds when they land on my balcony and are doing something interesting that I can photograph clearly from my desk chair.

I saw one Sparrow carrying a rather large bundle of nesting material yesterday.

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Melbourne, Australia, where I live in one of the outer north-western suburbs, is in strict lock-down for at least 6 weeks at the moment as we try to contain a large cluster of virus-outbreaks in the high-rise housing commission apartment blocks to the north of the city, but once the winter fog clears I’ll see if I can manage a quick walk outdoors as it’s going to be a beautiful sunny winter day today (and tomorrow).

Housing Commission, for overseas followers,  as described on Wikipedia:

The Housing Commission of Victoria (often shortened to Housing Commission, especially colloquially) was a Victorian State Government body responsible for public housing in Victoria, Australia. It was established in 1938, and was abolished in 1984.

The main activity of the Commission was the construction of tens of thousands of houses and flats in Melbourne and many country towns between the late 1940s and the early 70s, providing low rent housing for low-income families. The most visible legacy of the Commission is the 47 or so high-rise apartment towers in inner Melbourne, all built using the same precast concrete panel technology.

Those high-rise apartments are small and often house 2-3 families, or extended families in each flat, and have no balconies or Room With a View like I have.   I must admit if I didn’t have a green outlook, I would find it very difficult to sustain living long-term house-bound so I have great sympathy for the Housing Commission occupant’s current plight.

The State Government is hoping after the 6 weeks we can get back to our (new) ‘normal‘ i.e. staying home or working from home (if possible), limited daily outings for food and exercise, or caregiving/medical needs……….and limited cafes, hotels & social get-to-gether numbers.

It’s a very strict indoor lifestyle at the moment.

AUSTRALIAN RAVEN (Corvus coronoides)

I’ve finally unpacked everything and got 97% of my possessions back in place after my apartment move on Monday this week.

(I seem to have more possessions than 2 weeks ago  😀   but that’s impossible, merely that I’ve done a bit of re-arranging in this move to try and eradicate so much bending and/or twisting in daily activities for my degenerative spinal condition and right hip OA).

Anyway, this means I’ve found my photographic field guide Birds of Australia by Jim Flegg.  

By the way, if you live in Australia and are interested in Bird Photography, I can highly recommend this relatively small, (well, about 8″ & 6″), book to help you identify any Australian Birds you’re keen to put ‘name to face.’

Most of the images in this guide are very clear in both colour and bird shape, sometimes the eye colour being the only thing to help you identify between 2 or 3 similar birds.   Jim Flegg has inserted a small map of Australia with shaded blue areas of where the bird species is usually found for each one and a very concise description of the bird, the differences between male and female, its call and whether it’s common or rare etc.

AUSTRALIAN RAVEN (Corvus coronoides)

I believe the couple of photos I made of a large black bird last week in the local children’s playground have now been identified correctly, (although please let me know in the comments section if you believe I’ve got the name wrong).

There are 6 species of Raven or Crow in Australia, with the 3 Currawongs adding to an easy-to-mistake identification.

First I cast aside any bird photo that didn’t fall into my state of Victoria, then dismissed the ones with dark eyes and carefully read the description to reveal the name Australian Raven (Corvus coronoides).

I think Jim’s description finally clinched it.

47-56cm Large, familiar, and the largest Australia Crow.  Entirely glossy black, with an oily sheen in sunlight.  Throat feathers of adult bushy and bristly, especially during calling, when body is characteristically held horizontal.  (yes, this description definitely looked like the bird on the right side of my photo).  Eye white in adult.   Beak long, strong and black, with slightly convex ridge to upper mandible.

Immature duller with brown eye.  Mated pairs characteristically sedentary, roaming flocks of non-breeders small, not cohesive as in very similar Little Raven.

And so on………

This identification was a hard one for me as I’m not good at judging bird size from any distance and 8 (out of the 9) birds in the book have white eyes.