strange Chough behaviour

To: 'Canberra Birds' <>
Subject: strange Chough behaviour
From: Philip Veerman <>
Date: Sun, 31 May 2020 03:24:45 +0000

Just another comment. About: Has anyone come across references to Choughs flying high and surveying territory beneath? Predictably HANZAB has several pages about social behaviour of these birds. So that will describe movements. Though I don’t have the patience to trawl through it all. I suspect that being disturbed is not relevant to this behaviour. When Choughs are disturbed (for example by Magpies) they tend to either shrug them off or gather in a huddle for some communal displays, before resuming foraging, sometimes these event are followed by flying to guard the nest (if nearby). I don’t usually see them flying distances after being disturbed, indeed they seem to avoid it.


However when they are travelling longer distances, it is usually after a period of gathering together with a lot of calling to coordinate their movements, so they are ready to go as a group, before flying. That could be the commotion that Alison mentioned. That does not easily fit the situation of being disturbed. It is also more likely part of the process of joining or fracturing of groups of the birds.


Yes they do this high flight in flocks sometimes, like when flying over roads or another good example over the Murrumbidgee river from Bullen range to the other side or the other way. I recall another time I was with a small group from COG at Tidbinbilla (maybe one of those lyrebird surveys) and we saw a large group of Choughs fly over the valley from mid height on one mountain side to the opposite range.


Are they surveying territory beneath or just moving between sites? Hard to know.




From: Alison [
Sent: Friday, 29 May, 2020 1:31 PM
To: 'calyptorhynchus .'; 'Canberra Birds'
Subject: RE: [canberrabirds] strange Chough behaviour


Hi John,


Perhaps something disturbed them. I was at the top of the Botanic Gardens yesterday when I heard a commotion from choughs in the distance. A short time later a flock of around 15 birds flew high over the road leading up to Back Mountain tower (13 in my photo but with a few stragglers). About a minute later this flock was followed by an even larger flock. I counted 37 in this photo with a number out of frame.  Concentrating now on the larger flock I watched it too flew high over the Black Mount road and eventually land in the tree tops on the ridge on the other side of the road. I estimate about 60 birds in all.




From: calyptorhynchus .
Sent: Friday, 29 May 2020 8:16 AM
To: Canberra Birds <>
Subject: [canberrabirds] strange Chough behaviour


This morning I was running along the path between Red Hill and Deakin when I saw a flock of 40 Coughs flying at tree-top height from Red Hill towards Deakin and calling. "Oh," I thought, "they must roost on Red Hill, then fly to suburbs to feed during the day."


However, within a few seconds of them passing out of sight over Deakin they reappeared, still at tree-top height, but flying back towards Red Hill. So rather than moving from the Hill to the suburb they seem to have been doing a sort of fly-over of Deakin and returning to the Hill. 


Has anyone come across references to Choughs flying high and surveying territory beneath?



John Leonard


<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