Thursday, 20 August 2015


We are fortunate to have a flock of White-winged Choughs on our rural property. They appear to gather into a large flock of 20 or more birds over winter and then break up into a couple of smaller flocks of 10 or 12 birds for the breeding season. Most days their foraging routine sees them come by our home garden. They are fascinating social birds and always interesting to observe.
While working outside, three birds from a flock of a dozen caught my attention as the birds took a break from group foraging on a top rail of the stockyards. They perched close together, a behavior referred to as “clumping”. They stayed there long enough for me to go inside and get the camera and then allowed close approach for a series of shots.
Three choughs resting on stockyard rail caught my attention.
Two of the birds settled down for a rest but the closest bird seemed to be the guard bird, keeping an eye out for danger.
Something seemed to be bothering the guard bird, it could not settle down and continued to look about.
There was a disturbance among the magpies some distance away in the paddock so this may have been the cause of the guard bird’s unease.
The other two birds showed some concern from time to time.

Chough's can enlarge their eyes - see more on this at end of post.
However two of the birds generally seemed more interested in resting while the guard bird did not settle down.
There is always some bird activity of interest to observe and with spring clearly now on the way this will increase exponentially from now on, creating many welcome diversions from the jobs about the place that also increase at this time of year.
Michael Morcombe provides an excellent summary description of Choughs in his “Field Guide to Australian Birds”, well worth a read if you are interested in learning more about this highly social bird and happen to have a copy of this field guide.
Also an earlier post on the Chough and its distinctive red eye may be of interest:

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