Australian Bush Birds
Grey Currawong  -  Strepera versicolor
map map The Grey Currawong - Strepera versicolor - is widely distributed, mainly across the southern half of Australia, showing considerable variation in plumage. All Grey Currawongs have a distinctive, higher pitched, clear, ringing, clinking call. They also have a bill shape distinctly different to other Currawongs; the Grey's bill has straight edges, tapering evenly to a fine point without the hooked tip of the Pied and Black Currawong.

Grey Currawongs lives in sedentary pairs or as single birds within forests and emerges into open woodland only sporadically in winter. Tasmanian birds gather in loose flocks no larger than 30 to 40 birds in winter.

Explores all levels of the forest for food, from exploring upper branches to foraging on the ground, picking up small birds, their eggs and young, rodents, frogs, insects, carrion, seeds and fruit. The slender bill (compared with other Currawong species) is used to lever bark off trees to get at insects beneath; also forced under stones to turn them over to get at insects and reptiles beneath. Insects in the litter of forest floor and under tree bark are the Grey Currawong main prey.

Breeds in isolated pairs in large defended territory. Only the female incubates the eggs but both parents feed the young. Only one brood is raised each year.

The wide variation in sub-species of the Grey Currawong probably includes birds that are really separate species. At present six sub-species are named, some were formerly separate species.

  Grey Currawong, sub-species versicolor has variable grey to grey-brown plumage, white tail-tip, under-tail coverts are white; flight feathers have white tips; white patches on the wing (which may be visible in the folded wing). Black around the eye. Mid-grey in south-east Australia becoming gradually darker westward with less white in the wing. Very dark grey in the south-west of Western Australia and in an isolated population in Central Australia.

  Clinking Currawong, sub-species auguta, is found only in Tasmania and Bass Strait islands. This is a large, very dark form which closely resembles the Pied Currawong (not found in Tasmania) although the beak readily differentiates the birds. Has white-tipped tail, white under-tail coverts and white wing patches.   Description  

  Black-winged Currawong, sub-species melanoptera, has grey-black plumage without any white on the wings but has white under-tail coverts and tail tip. Lives in mallee districts around Victorian-South Australian border.

  Brown Currawong, sub-species intermedia, has overall darker grey-brown plumage, white tail-tip, white under-tail coverts. Black around the eye. Found on the Eyre and York Peninsulas in South Australia.

  Sub-species plumbea, similar to versicolor which it replaces in north-west South Australia, south-west Northern Territory and southern part of Western Australia.

  Sub-species halmaturina, has dark plumage, no white in the wings, found on Kangaroo Island, South Australia.