Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Gifts from Half-tail

A while ago I blogged about Half-tail the Currawong.

Currawongs are bigger than magpies and smaller than ravens and are B&W Australian birds that are omnivores. (This is a rather odd photo of Half-tail -  s/he is inspecting me rather closely while sunning his/her back and thus in a strange pose!)

Half-tail visits our garden for all sorts of things. A bath in the bird bath usually each day - a very tidy currawong.

Other activities include collecting sticks for nesting, searching for worms in the vegetable patch and very gently taking the occasional mince ball from my hand.

Half-tail sometimes leaves curious 'gifts' as thanks?  This is the latest offering -  a small collection of blueberry ash berries  hardly digested and deposited on the verandah table.

These are usually offered via regurgitation from their crop just as they do for their babies. Nice, thanks Half-tail...

Blueberry ash (Elaeocarpus reticulartus)  is an Australian native plant of the wetter parts of Sydney's forests.  We planted one in our backyard and it is a magnet for the currawongs who hop about finding the little blue balls.

They hold the small berries so delicately in their big heavy black beaks before tossing them back with a flick of their head. The little blue balls result in very dark purple currawong pooh.

Strange, isn't it, why did Half-tail deliver these to us?

The table on the verandah is where we eat most meals, is this an accident or a contribution? Thanks for the mince balls perhaps? They seem so intelligent these birds that it is hard to imagine that this is just accident without some purpose.

It would be good to speak currawong so we could have a chat about the meaning of blue balls, the offering of mince, mutual curious stares and the taste of worms.


  1. I reckon they probably taste a bit like chicken...

    1. I reckon you'd be right, but crickey, you'd want to make sure all the grit was out!

  2. Perhaps she thinks you might want to make jam and felt she was a bit greedy so gave some back?

  3. How gorgeous! I'm lovin' Half-tail! Birds are such characters and fascinating to watch. I hope you get to enjoy him/her for years to come.

    1. Half-tail makes me smile everyday. There is just something about half-tail. S/he is such a personality and the only one of the currawongs that does these 'special ' things. I love the other currawongs, but half -tail is special. Clever? Wise? or just relaxed with me? I don't know.

  4. Currawongs, as well as owls, birds of prey and a few other species, regurgitate the indigestible parts of their food as "pellets". With owls etc these pellets often contain bones and fur. However, unlike owls and birds of prey, currawongs eat a lot of fruit in the right season and their pellets often consist entirely of seeds. Also, they tend to fall apart rather than stick together as other pellets do, so they end up looking like just a pile of seeds. Getting rid of seeds before they pass through the gut is an effective way of reducing weight, important for any flying creature.

    I once counted 80 privet seeds regurgitated by a currawong in one "pellet". They often regurgitate just after having a drink.

    Sorry to say the blue balls might not be intended as a gift but are just the unwanted parts of its meal. By the way, birds like currawongs don't usually regurgitate food for their young as parrots do, but rather deliver things like cicadas, worms, spiders, etc, straight into the chicks' mouths whole.

    A lovely blog and great photos. Hope these comments help explain things.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...