There are three different species and numerous subspecies of the Australian bird currawong. They’re one of the more interesting birds in country, very dominant, and will often scare off other birds in the area. They’re also dangerous for their eating behaviours, known to raid the nests of other birds for eggs and hatchlings.
Keeping them under control can be very important. It means that local species, many of which are protected, can have the best chance of survival. In addition, currawongs damage garden plants and can be a nuisance as they’re not easily frightened. Therefore, in this article, we will be looking closely at this group of birds and how to deter currawongs from your property.
To control currawongs, it is important to understand their behaviours. There are three distinct species of the family, grey currawong (Strepera versicolor), pied currawong (Strepera granculina), and the black currawong (Strepera fuliginosa). There are also 14 subspecies, normally based on geographic location.
The pied currawong can be found across Eastern Australia. The grey currawong comes from Southern Australia and Tasmania. The black currawong is only found in Tasmania, but there are two subspecies of this species, the King Island black currawong (Strepera fuliginosa colei) and the Flinders Island black currawong (Strepera fuliginosa parvoir)
Despite the differences, it is important to note that there are lots of similarities between them.
Currawongs are known to be dominant, they will often drive off other species, especially when they are trying to establish themselves in an area that is used or inhabited by people. They’re also known to migrate to towns or cities during the winter months, where they can congregate in loose flocks.
The currawong nesting habits are very interesting. A female currawong will build a nest and incubate the eggs and young on her own. However, both the male and female will hunt and find food for the young. It is interesting to note that the nests are somewhat flimsy, especially for the size of the bird.
And they can be very friendly to humans, sometimes forming long-lasting relationships. One bird has been known to regularly visit the same family for 18 years.
What do Currawong Birds Eat?
But the problem is that their diet is so varied that they can be very opportunistic, and sometimes they will cause damage to gardens and ornamental plants. And because they hang around human cities and towns, they can often leave their droppings everywhere, which can be unsightly and spread disease.
The Need for Currawong Control
Uncontrolled currawong presence in the area can be a significant problem for numerous issues. For one, their predation on other birds can cause populations to plummet. When pied currawongs were removed from Cabbage Tree Island, the population of Gould’s Petrel increased. And a partial removal of the same species from a nature reserve in New England, reduced nest predation by 20%.
Therefore, removing some of the birds can be linked to a more balanced ecosystem. If this is not completed, then there is a risk that some endangered species could become extinct.
And it isn’t just birds that the currawong eats. They’re also known to prey on native reptile species, like skinks. When the populations in an area are significantly high, this can put pressure on the native wildlife. And this can mean that populations in the area can be depleted. And reptiles play a significant part in the ecosystems.
In addition, currawongs can be very destructive to plant life. By reducing the population, plants in an area can be protected from damage from their eating habits. But currawongs can also spread plants wider and farther than they would otherwise do. Berry-producing plants have become a significant issue in areas where they live, with some becoming weeds.
One pellet from a currawong in an urban area contained more than 60 species of plants.
The species is also known to take food from pet bowls, food scraps, and even food from bird feeders. Therefore, they can take food and spread diseases, which can cause an ecological disaster.
The problem is that current efforts, culling populations, only have a short-term and limited impact. Instead, there needs to be a longer-term effort to control populations and protect local populations.
Effective Currawong Deterrents
There are lots of effective currawong deterrents that can be used in both urban and other areas. These effective deterrents can be natural and non-lethal. Some solutions can be done by any homeowner in addition to seeking out professional help from pest control services.
The product Garden Sentinel - Motion-Activated Pest Repeller Sprinkler is in the picture
Currawongs can be deterred from specific areas based on the landscape and plant selection. However, homeowners can make specific changes to the garden that can help to bring pied currawong numbers down naturally. Removing any exotic berry-producing plants, such as the Asparagus Fern or privets.
It is also important to consider the feeding habits of the currawong. They tend to start at the edge of the premises and move inwards. However, if they can’t find food on the outer edges, they can sometimes leave the property alone.
Of course, there are also other deterrents that you can use. For instance, you can use sound and visual deterrents that scare away the currawong. For example, there is the motion-activated Garden Sentinel which detects movement from the birds. It then lets off an unexpected noise that startles the bird into going away. The sentinel also moves and can spray water at the bird.
In addition to the above natural options, there are lots of non-lethal methods that can be used to help keep currawongs away from properties. For example, gardeners can use netting and barriers that make it hard for the large birds to access certain areas, especially where they can find nesting areas, shelter, or food sources.
Individuals can also use various scaring techniques, such as those deployed by the sentinel to ensure that currawongs don’t access an area. Currawongs are typically very challenging to scare away. So other techniques, such as scarecrows, can be very tough.
Seeking Professional Help
You might also want to have some professional help to reduce the use of your garden and area by currawongs. However, these can be very expensive, but if your current efforts aren’t working, then you might want to find a pest controller in the area who is happy to help you remove them.
Preventing Currawong Damage
There are lots of ways that you can prevent currawong damage to your property, gardens, orchards, and bird nests. There are certain precautions that you can take immediately.
The first thing to do is to remove all potential nesting grounds for the currawong. You can still encourage other birds from nesting in the areas by using small nesting boxes. These nesting boxes can also be a good way to protect chicks from predation.
In addition, nets and barriers can help keep the birds away from specific areas of the garden.
But there are always going to be currawongs who want to access your garden. If you don’t leave food out and don’t plant berry-producing plants, there is a smaller reason for them to access the garden.
However, if they do access the garden areas, then using a Sentinel device can deter them from staying long. The noise movement and the water spray can be a significant scare for them.
It is important to realise that while cats and dogs might scare some off, many currawongs will often wait until the cat/dog is not in the area. And therefore, they aren’t an effective deterrent. Cats might kill the birds, which is not desirable. Instead, the effort should be about keeping the currawong out.
Currawongs may be native to Australia, but human activity has allowed them to thrive in numbers that aren’t manageable. While for most species that wouldn’t be a problem, currawongs cause significant damage. They can kill lots of baby and adult birds, devastate local reptile populations, and spread around plants that can become weeds. As a result, there is significant pressure on both the native wildlife and people living in urban areas.
One of the problems is that currawongs are not easily scared and are very good at forging relationships with locals. Some have formed very close bonds with humans, returning to them time and again for food.
Only by controlling populations can the ecological balance be restored. This requires action by both local residents and homeowners. Actions that should be taken include making gardens less inviting to the birds as well as using deterrents such as the sentinel can help keep the bird population at bay by providing a less-than-inviting environment in the urban area.