Spring was busting out all over when Jan and I left Melbourne about a week ago. On our second last day we went birdwatching in the Long Forest Reserve and were rewarded with finding a White-winged Chough sitting on her super cool mud nest. Couldn’t get a picture of her out of the nest so I have included a sadly ordinary pic of a few Choughs foraging near Esk in Queensland.
Chough society is pretty hard-core, incorporating child abduction, enslavement and deception into their lifestyle.
I have pillaged Wikipedia for the following facts about Australian Choughs.
“The white-winged chough (Corcorax melanorhamphos) is one of only two surviving members of the Australian mud-nest builders family, Corcoracidae, and is the only member of the genus Corcorax. It is native to Southern and Eastern Australia and is an example of convergent evolution as it is only distantly related to the European choughs that it closely resembles in shape, and for which it was named.
“Nesting and breeding is communal, all members of the family helping to raise the young – a process that takes several years, as young birds must learn the art of finding food in the dry Australian bush. Larger families have a better chance of breeding success: so much so that given the opportunity choughs will kidnap the youngsters of neighboring families in order to recruit them to the team: the more helpers the better!
“All members of a family take turns to incubate, preen, and feed youngsters, and all cooperate in defending the nest against predators. However, the juveniles, who are highly inefficient foragers, have been observed to engage in deception; they bring food back to the nest and make to feed nestlings, but instead wait until unobserved, and then eat it themselves. This behaviour disappeared when food sources were artificially supplemented.There are three main threats to young choughs: starvation; predation by nest-robbing birds, particularly currawongs; and sabotage by neighbouring chough families anxious to protect their food supply by restricting competition. Larger family groups are better able to deal with all three threats.” — source Wikipedia