White-winged Chough

Did you know?

White-winged Choughs live in social clans of about seven to ten individuals and will defend their nest territory during the breeding season with 'wing-waving' displays to deter unwanted intruders.

Calls
The White-winged Chough is often first noticed by a mournful, descending whistle. If disturbed, it gives a ratchet-like call.
Facts and Figures
Research Species: 
No
Minimum Size: 
43cm
Maximum Size: 
47cm
Average size: 
45cm
Average weight: 
359g
Clutch Size: 
Usually three to five, up to ten.
Incubation: 
19 days
Nestling Period: 
28 days
Conservation Status
Federal: 
NSW: 
QLD: 
SA: 
VIC: 
WA: 
Basic Information
Scientific Name: 
Atlas Number: 
693
What does it look like?
Description: 

The White-winged Chough is a large, almost completely black bird. It has a curved beak, a red eye and a large white wing patch, which is seen when the bird is in flight. The bill and legs are black. Both male and female share the same plumage pattern. Young White-winged Choughs start off duskier than the adults, and the eye is brown. They do not reach sexual maturity until four years of age and, during this time, the eye changes from brown to orange and then to red, and the plumage darkens.

Similar species: 

From a distance, the White-winged Chough may be confused with one of the Crows or Ravens, Corvus sp., but the curved bill and red eye distinguish it from these birds. Crows and Ravens also lack the white wing patch. Currawongs,Strepera sp., have white wing patches and mostly black plumage, but the patches are smaller and the birds also have yellow eyes.

Where does it live?
Distribution: 

White-winged Choughs are found throughout most of eastern and south-eastern mainland Australia, but are absent from northern Queensland.

Habitat: 

White-winged Choughs are found in open forests and woodlands. They tend to prefer the wetter areas, with lots of leaf-litter, for feeding, and available mud for nest building.

What does it do?
Feeding: 

The White-winged Chough feeds mostly on the ground. It is extremely sociable, almost always seen in groups of up to 10, raking through the grass and ground litter. Food consists of insects and some seeds. Large feeding territories are kept, which are often up to 1000 ha in size.

Breeding: 

White-winged Choughs stay in medium to large social flocks throughout the breeding season. These groups normally consist of only one breeding pair, the other birds being offspring from previous years. The young birds take four years to reach breeding maturity and stay with the parents during this time. The young birds help with nest building, incubation and feeding of chicks. The nest of the White-winged Chough is a large bowl of mud, which is built on a horizontal branch within 15 m of the ground. It may take several months to build if there is insufficient rain to moisten the mud. If there is a lack of mud, birds may use cattle or Emu dung. The eggs are cream-coloured, with large brown spots. When the chicks first leave the nest, they are not able to fly, and are easy prey for feral cats and foxes. The young birds are able to fly as strongly as their parents after another 28 days. Parties of Choughs are known to kidnap young birds from neighbouring groups.

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