Currawong Highway

To: canberrabirds chatline <>
Subject: Currawong Highway
From: Julian Robinson <>
Date: Sat, 15 Mar 2008 11:41:55 +1100
Mid-afternoon on 12Sep2006 I saw a large flock of Currawongs at Wanniassa Hills - at the time I said "at least 100" but there could easily have been double that or more as they were moving so fast over large areas some of which I couldn't see and many were sitting in trees.  They were feasting on a swarm of airborne insects - awkwardly hawking.  Currawongs are pretty big to manoeuvre for small insects and there were some spectacular aerobatics involved that I've not seen by a Currawong before or since.  The insects never landed so I don't know what they were.  I was surprised at the Currawong numbers and wondered then where they came from.  They were present for at least an hour until I left.

Wanniassa Hills is on the extended route described by Jack - Chapman/Rivett > Mt Taylor > Wanniassa Hills and is not far from Geoffrey's Narrabundah, but this was 2006 and not a morning/evening transport meetup. Possibly this flock aggregated specifically for the insects, organised by the long-distance communication mentioned.

Re roosting - one time last year at dusk the entire slopes of Mt Majura seemed to be occupied by Currawongs - we didn't see any other species and again there must have been at least 100 and possibly more.  I thought they were settling in to roost although they were still moving around when it got too dark and we left.

The attached photo is a composite but pretty well reflects a small portion of the scene on the feast day.  What you can't see is many birds on the ground and in trees, apparently resting.  There was very little calling this day, almost none - probably too busy, or too knackered.


At 08:19 PM 14/03/2008, you wrote:
Jack  -  I think the annual 15 min/200 birds phenomenon still occurs in some localities.  They seem to me to be opportunistic roosters (no political  implication intended).   Their preferred roosts are in tall eucs, either street trees or in reserves.  Rather than concentrate, they seem to maintain cohesion by their ability to communicate at long range.  If anyone knows of any, I would be interested in any studies of this subject, namely (forgive the alliteration) ?Communication and cooperation in currawong communities?.  g
From: Jack and Andrea Holland
Sent: Friday, 14 March 2008 5:23 PM
To: Geoffrey Dabb;
Subject: Re: [canberrabirds] Currawong Highway
Geoffrey, very interesting, do you know where they roost?
The reason I ask is that Pied Currawongs used to pass over my place in Chapman during the mid autumn to early spring period in large numbers, sometimes up to 200 birds and often over a short say 15 minute period.  They used to fly W very noisily towards Woden/Mt Taylor in the morning shortly after or even before sunrise, and return late afternoon, usually a bit more strung out.  One time I checked and found them coming out of the former pine forest at Narrabundah Hill as it was only just getting light.
Since the fires in January 2003 this phenomenon seems to have completely gone, indeed it had already diminished significantly for a few years before that when they seemed to take a more northerly path through Rivett.
The very noticeable roost flight of the Australian King Parrot to the same pine forest/Mt Stromlo, particularly in winter, also no longer occurs.
Jack Holland 
<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the Canberra Ornithologists Group mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the list contact David McDonald, list manager, phone (02) 6231 8904 or email . If you can not contact David McDonald e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU