Biodiversity

Species Profile and Threats Database


For information to assist proponents in referral, environmental assessments and compliance issues, refer to the Policy Statements and Guidelines (where available), the Conservation Advice (where available) or the Listing Advice (where available).
 
In addition, proponents and land managers should refer to the Recovery Plan (where available) or the Conservation Advice (where available) for recovery, mitigation and conservation information.

EPBC Act Listing Status Listed as Vulnerable
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan required, included on the Commenced List (1/11/2009).
 
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans Lord Howe Island Biodiversity Management Plan (NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change (NSW DECC), 2007b) [Recovery Plan].
 
Policy Statements and Guidelines Survey Guidelines for Australia's Threatened Birds. EPBC Act survey guidelines 6.2 (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), 2010l) [Admin Guideline].
 
Federal Register of
    Legislative Instruments
Declaration under s178, s181, and s183 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 - List of threatened species, List of threatened ecological communities and List of threatening processes (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000) [Legislative Instrument].
 
State Government
    Documents and Websites
NSW:Lord Howe Currawong - profile (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2005lu) [Internet].
State Listing Status
NSW: Listed as Vulnerable (Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (New South Wales): December 2013)
Non-statutory Listing Status
NGO: Listed as Endangered (The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2010)
Scientific name Strepera graculina crissalis [25994]
Family Artamidae:Passeriformes:Aves:Chordata:Animalia
Species author  
Infraspecies author Sharpe, 1877
Reference  
Distribution map Species Distribution Map

This is an indicative distribution map of the present distribution of the species based on best available knowledge. See map caveat for more information.

Illustrations Google Images

Scientific name: Strepera graculina crissalis

Common names: Pied Currawong (Lord Howe Island), Lord Howe Island Currawong

Other names: Lord Howe Island Crow-Shrike or Pied Crow-Shrike, Lord Howe Island Pied Bell-Magpie (Hindwood 1940)

The Pied Currawong (Lord Howe Island) is a conventionally accepted subspecies of the Pied Currawong (Mayr & Greenway 1962; Schodde & Mason 1999), although it has been suggested that the taxonomy be reviewed, especially at the molecular level, to determine if the Pied Currawong (Lord Howe Island) warrants recognition as a distinct species (McAllan et al. 2004).

The Pied Currawong (Lord Howe Island) is a large bird about 46 cm in length (Hutton 1991). It is mostly glossy black, but has bright orange irides, a small patch of white on each wing (at the base of the primary feathers), a large patch of white around the undertail coverts, a small patch of white at the base of the tail, and a white tip to the tail (Carlile 2007, pers. comm.; Higgins et al. 2006a; Hutton 1991). The sexes are alike, but females are slightly smaller than males (Higgins et al. 2006a; Schodde & Mason 1999). Juvenile and immature birds are similar to the adults, but they have a duller and (especially in juveniles) browner plumage, and juvenile birds also exhibit pale markings on the head, neck, upperbody, breast and wings, and have a yellow gape and, for the first eight months, a yellow tip on the bill (Carlile 2007, pers. comm.; Higgins et al. 2006a).

The Pied Currawong (Lord Howe Island) occurs singly, in pairs and family groups and, in the non-breeding season, in small flocks of up to 15 birds (Disney & Smithers 1972; Hutton 1991; Knight 1987; Lindsey 1986).

The Pied Currawong (Lord Howe Island) is confined to Lord Howe Island and nearby islets (Schodde & Mason 1999). It occurs throughout Lord Howe Island (Cooper 1990; Garnett & Crowley 2000; Mills undated), but is most numerous in mountainous areas to the south (Hutton 1991; McFarland 1994). It also frequents nearby offshore islets such as those in the Admiralty group (Garnett 1993; Garnett & Crowley 2000).

The extent of occurrence is estimated, with high reliability, to be 18 km². There is no evidence of a historical or recent change in the extent of occurrence (Garnett & Crowley 2000).

The area of occupancy is estimated, with high reliability, to be 12 km² (Garnett & Crowley 2000). There is no evidence of a recent change in the area of occupancy (Garnett & Crowley 2000). The settlement of Lord Howe Island resulted in the loss of some preferred habitat of the Pied Currawong (Lord Howe Island) (McFarland 1994; Pickard 1983), but this does not appear to have affected the area of occupancy. The Pied Currawong (Lord Howe Island) is widespread on the island, occurs in settled areas, and may actually have benefited from the associated introduction of some exotic plants and animals that are now exploited as a food source (Cooper 1990; Garnett & Crowley 2000; Hutton 1991; McFarland 1994; Mills undated).

The Pied Currawong (Lord Howe Island) breed on Lord Howe Island (Hutton 1991; McAllan et al. 2004; McFarland 1994), and so the species is considered to occur at only a single location.

As the Pied Currawong (Lord Howe Island) occurs throughout Lord Howe Island, its distribution is not considered severely fragmented (Cooper 1990; Garnett & Crowley 2000; Mills undated).

The Pied Currawong (Lord Howe Island) has been well surveyed. Its status was assessed during general surveys of the Lord Howe Island avifauna in 1971 (Fullagar et al. 1974), 1986, 1993 and 2001 (Mills undated), and during targeted surveys in 1984, 1985 (Knight 1987), 1987, 1989, 1991 (McFarland 1994), 2005 and 2006 (Carlile 2007, pers. comm.). Consequently, its distribution is well known, and its population size has been estimated on five occasions (Carlile 2007, pers. comm.; Cooper 1990; Fullagar et al. 1974;Garnett & Crowley 2000). The first four estimates of population size were based on observations of unmarked birds (Garnett & Crowley 2000) and, because unmarked individuals cannot be identified, and the birds are highly mobile, these estimates are unlikely to provide an accurate assessment of population size (Garnett 1993; McFarland 1994). However, the most recent estimate of population size was based on banding studies (Carlile 2007, pers. comm.) and is thus likely to be more accurate than previous estimates.

The total population size of the Pied Currawong (Lord Howe Island) is estimated at 200 individuals. This estimate is based on the results of a survey conducted in 2005 and 2006 that banded a total of 149 adult and 42 juvenile birds, and as such is considered to be of high accuracy (Carlile 2007, pers. comm.)

The Pied Currawong (Lord Howe Island) occurs in single, intra-breeding population on Lord Howe Island (Garnett & Crowley 2000).

The first accurate estimate of population size was not made until 2006, and therefore an accurate assessment of the population trends has not been possible. The information that is available suggests the population has remained moderately stable in recent decades (Garnett & Crowley 2000). The population was estimated to comprise of 70 to 100 birds in the 1960s, and was thought to have declined when it was estimated to comprise of 30 to 50 birds in 1971 (Fullagar et al. 1974). The population comprised of a minimum of 52 birds in 1984 and 55 birds in 1985, and based on these counts, and a speculative estimate of the number of birds that occurred in areas that were not surveyed, the total population in 1985 was estimated to comprise of 73 birds (Knight 1987). The population was reported to comprise of 30 to 50 birds in 1986 (Cooper 1990; Mills undated), when the Pied Currawong (Lord Howe Island) was described as being moderately common (Mills undated). Surveys in the southern mountains of Lord Howe Island in 1987, 1989 and 1991 recorded 28 birds, 35 birds and 37 birds respectively (McFarland 1994). The Pied Currawong (Lord Howe Island) was described as being uncommon in 1993, but it was still recorded in most areas visited (Mills undated). The population was estimated to comprise of 80 adult birds in 2000 (Garnett & Crowley 2000). The species was described as being relatively common in 2001 (Mills undated), but rare by McAllan and colleagues in 2004 (McAllan et al. 2004). This change in status compared to 2001 appears to be due to a difference in interpretation rather than an actual reduction in the size of the population. A survey conducted in 2005 and 2006 indicates that the population is currently comprised of about 200 birds (Carlile 2007, pers. comm.).

There is no empirical evidence of a historical decline in population size: the Pied Currawong (Lord Howe Island) was described as being very plentiful in 1887 (Etheridge 1889) and 1907 (Hull 1909), common in the late 1920s (Sharland 1929), and fairly plentiful in the mid to late 1930s (Hindwood 1940).

The generation length is estimated, with low reliability, to be five years (Garnett & Crowley 2000).

No cross-breeding has been recorded between the Pied Currawong (Lord Howe Island) and any other species of bird. It is unlikely that any cross-breeding occurs in the wild because the Pied Currawong (Lord Howe Island) is the only member of the genus Strepera that occurs on Lord Howe Island (Higgins et al. 2006; Sibley & Monroe 1990).

The entire population of the Pied Currawong (Lord Howe Island) occurs in the Lord Howe Island Group (Mayr & Cottrell 1962; Schodde & Mason 1999), which is inscribed as a World Heritage Area.

The Pied Currawong (Lord Howe Island) occurs in lowland, hill and mountain regions, including the summit of Mount Gower (866 m above sea level). It mainly inhabits tall rainforests and palm forests, especially beside creeks or in gullies, but it also occurs in settled areas, and forages amongst colonies of seabirds on offshore islets. The forests inhabited by the Pied Currawong (Lord Howe Island) are usually undisturbed, but tracts of forest adjacent to pasture land, and patches of remnant forest in settled areas, are also occupied (Disney & Smithers 1972; Etheridge 1889; Hutton 1991; Knight 1987; McFarland 1994; McFarland undated, pers. comm.; Mills undated; Sharland 1929).

The Pied Currawong occurs in areas inhabited by the Lord Howe Woodhen Gallirallus sylvestris (McFarland 1994), which is listed under the EPBC Act 1999. The chicks of the Lord Howe Woodhen provide a source of food for the Pied Currawong (Lord Howe Island) (Garnett & Crowley 2000), but they probably represent only a small proportion of the diet (McFarland 1994).

No information is available on the ages of sexual maturity or life expectancy in the Pied Currawong (Lord Howe Island). However, it is probably capable of surviving to more than 20 years of age (Higgins et al. 2006).

The Pied Currawong (Lord Howe Island) has been recorded breeding from October to December (Hindwood 1940; McAllan et al. 2004; McFarland 1994; Mills undated). However, it probably begins breeding in September (McAllan et al. 2004) or, at times, possibly even as early as July (Hull 1909). It builds a cup-shaped nest of sticks and twigs, and sometimes vines, that is placed high above ground in the outer branches of a tree such as Cleistocalyx fullagarii, Cryptocarya triplinervis, Drypetes australasica, Ficus macrophylla and Howea forsteriana (Hull 1909; Hindwood 1940; Hutton 1991; McAllan et al. 2004; McFarland 1994; Sharland 1929). Its breeding sites are located in gullies, and close to water, in undisturbed forest on the slopes of hills and mountains (Garnett & Crowley 2000; Hull 1909; Hutton 1991; McFarland 1994).

Its clutches consist of three eggs. The eggs are light-brown to rufous-brown in colour, and have darker spots and blotches of brown and grey (Hindwood 1940; Hutton 1991). The eggs are incubated by the female for a period of 21 days. The nestlings are fed by both parents, and depart the nest about 30 days after hatching (Hutton 1991). No information is available on the period of dependence of young in the Pied Currawong (Lord Howe Island), but most fledgelings probably become independent within about seven weeks of leaving the nest (Higgins et al. 2006; Prawiradilaga 1996).

Data on breeding success are available only for the 2005-2006 breeding season, during which five of twelve clutches observed produced at least one fledgeling, and one pair successfully reared two broods (a total of five fledgelings) (Carlile 2007, pers. comm.). Successful broods usually consist of one or two young but, in some seasons, pairs may not rear a brood at all (Knight 1987).

The Pied Currawong (Lord Howe Island) is omnivorous. It takes a variety of food items including fruits and seeds from Coprosma putida, Cryptocarya triplinervis, Drypetes australasica, Dysoxylum pachyphyllum and Lepidorrhachis mooreana; insects including the Lord Howe Island Cicada Psaltoda insularis and beetle larvae; and small vertebrates including rats Rattus, chickens Gallus gallus, domestic ducklings and chicks of island birds including the Providence Petrel Pterodroma solandri, Red-tailed Tropicbird Phaethon rubricauda, Lord Howe Woodhen, Sooty Tern Sterna fuscata, White Tern Gygis alba, Emerald Dove Chalcophaps indica, Golden Whistler Pachycephala pectoralis and Song Thrush Turdus philomelos (Garnett & Crowley 2000; Hindwood 1940; Hutton 1991).

Little published information is available on the feeding behaviour of the Pied Currawong (Lord Howe Island). It picks insects from the bark of trees, and uses its large and robust bill to break apart rotten logs in search of larvae (Hutton 1991). It consumes snails by clasping the shell in the bill, smashing the shell against a rock, and then removing the soft parts (Carlile 2007, pers. comm.). It collects fruits from within the canopy and from the ground (Carlile 2007, pers. comm.). It pursues and captures rats (Garnett & Crowley 2000; Hutton 1991), and attacks and kills chickens, ducklings and the chicks of some endemic birds (Garnett & Crowley 2000). Large vertebrate prey is dismembered, and some food may be cached, before it is fed to nestlings (Carlile 2007, pers. comm.).

The Pied Currawong (Lord Howe Island) is sedentary (Higgins et al. 2006) and resident on Lord Howe Island (McAllan et al. 2004). It appears to undertake local movements in autumn and winter when it descends from breeding sites in the hills and mountains into lowland areas to forage (Fullagar et al. 1974; Hindwood 1940; Hutton 1991). It is said to be highly mobile (Garnett & Crowley 2000), although no long distance movements have been recorded. Individual birds have, however, been observed to make direct flights between the summit of Mount Gower and the eastern slopes of Mount Lidgbird (a distance of approximately 2 km) (McFarland 1994; McFarland undated, pers. comm.), between the summits of the mountains and the shore, and between Lord Howe Island and offshore islets (Garnett & Crowley 2000).

The Pied Currawong (Lord Howe Island) occurs in territories that are probably occupied by a breeding pair and its offspring (Knight 1987). Territories are generally about six hectares in size (Carlile 2007, pers. comm.), although some territories may exceed ten hectares, and territory boundaries appear to expand and contract according to the number of birds present (Knight 1987). Some territories are defended in both the breeding and non-breeding seasons. The defense of a territory is very aggressive; intruding conspecifics are pursued (Knight 1987), and humans are swooped if they approach a nest too closely (Hutton 1991).

The Pied Currawong (Lord Howe Island) is unlikely to be mistaken for any other bird on Lord Howe Island (Higgins et al. 2006).

The Pied Currawong (Lord Howe Island) is readily detectable: it is conspicuous; it has a loud and distinctive call; and it is described as tame and extremely curious, and will approach and investigate humans or human activity (Disney & Smithers 1972; Garnett 1993; Hindwood 1940; Hutton 1991; McFarland 1994).

The Pied Currawong (Lord Howe Island) is known to respond to the playback of recorded calls of the Lord Howe Woodhen (McFarland 1994), which suggests that broadcast surveys (the playback of recorded calls to elicit a response from a bird or birds) could also prove effective. The birds can be detected by sight or by call (Knight 1987). Surveys that employ trapping techniques are most effective in September or October, when the birds are most easily captured, but are not practical during inclement weather (Carlile 2007, pers. comm.).

The small size of the Pied Currawong (Lord Howe Island) population makes it highly vulnerable to threatening processes. Two potential threats have been formally identified: the introduction of an exotic predator, and the persecution of the Pied Currawong (Lord Howe Island) by humans in retaliation to attacks on domestic and endemic birds (Garnett & Crowley 2000; Hutton 1991). The incidence of shooting has declined since the 1970s, when the conservation effort on Lord Howe Island intensified (Hutton 1991), but occasional shooting deaths still occur (Carlile 2007, pers. comm.). The Pied Currawong (Lord Howe Island) has persisted in reasonable numbers on Lord Howe Island despite the introduction of the Black Rat Rattus rattus in 1918 (Fullagar & Disney 1975; McAllan et al. 2004), although it may have benefited from a rat eradication program that is currently being implemented (Carlile 2007, pers. comm.).

It is recommended that the status of the Pied Currawong (Lord Howe Island) should be monitored during routine management procedures on Lord Howe Island (Garnett & Crowley 2000). It has been suggested that the population should be confined in captivity during a proposed program to eradicate rodents from Lord Howe Island, to prevent Currawongs from taking the rat baits. However, the feasibility of this program is yet to be assesseed (Carlile 2007, pers. comm.).

There have been two published population surveys on the Pied Currawong (Lord Howe Island): one based on counts made in 1984 and 1985 (Knight 1987) and a second based on counts made in 1987, 1989 and 1991 (McFarland 1994).

The Pied Currawong (Lord Howe Island) is featured in a draft Biodiversity Management Plan for Lord Howe Island (DEC 2006a), and a brief recovery outline for the subspecies is presented in The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2000 (Garnett & Crowley 2000).

The following table lists known and perceived threats to this species. Threats are based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) threat classification version 1.1.

Threat Class Threatening Species References
Biological Resource Use:Hunting and Collecting Terrestrial Animals:illegal control Lord Howe Island Biodiversity Management Plan (NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change (NSW DECC), 2007f) [State Recovery Plan].
Ecosystem/Community Stresses:Indirect Ecosystem Effects:Restricted geographical distribution (area of occupancy and extent of occurrence) Strepera graculina crissalisin Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006yg) [Internet].
Species Stresses:Indirect Species Effects:Low numbers of individuals Strepera graculina crissalisin Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006yg) [Internet].
Uncategorised:Uncategorised:threats not specified Strepera graculina crissalisin Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006yg) [Internet].

Carlile, N. (2007). Personal communication. Department of Environment and Conservation (New South Wales). February 2007.

Cooper, R.M. (1990). 1986 New South Wales Bird Report. Australian Birds. 23:68-101.

Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) (2006a). Biodiversity Management Plan for Lord Howe Island. Sydney: Department of Environment and Conservation.

Disney, H.J. de S. & C.N. Smithers (1972). The distribution of terrestrial and freshwater birds on Lord Howe Island, in comparison with Norfolk Island. Australian Zoologist. 17:1-11.

Etheridge, R. (1889). The general zoology of Lord Howe Island. Australian Museum Memoirs. 2:3-42.

Fullagar, P.J. & H.J. de S. Disney (1975). The birds of Lord Howe Island: a report on the rare and endangered species. Bulletin of the International Council for Bird Preservation. 12:187--202.

Fullagar, P.J., J.L. McKean & G.F. Van Tets (1974). Report on the Birds. In: Recher, H.F., & S.S. Clark, eds. Environmental Survey of Lord Howe Island: a Report to the Lord Howe Island Board. Page(s) 55-72. Dept of Environmental Studies, Australian Museum, Sydney.

Garnett, S., ed. (1993). Threatened and Extinct Birds of Australia. RAOU Report 82. Melbourne: Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union, and Canberra: Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Garnett, S.T. & G.M. Crowley (2000). The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2000. [Online]. Canberra, ACT: Environment Australia and Birds Australia. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/action/birds2000/index.html.

Higgins, P.J., J.M. Peter & S.J. Cowling, eds. (2006a). Boatbill to Starlings. In: Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. 7. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Hindwood, K.A. (1940). The birds of Lord Howe Island. Emu. 40:1-86.

Hull, A.F.B. (1909). The birds of Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales. 34:636-693.

Hutton, I. (1991). Birds of Lord Howe Island: Past and Present. Coffs Harbour, NSW: author published.

Knight, B.J. (1987). A population survey of the Lord Howe Island Currawong. Australian Birds. 21:28--29.

Lindsey, T.R. (1986). New South Wales Bird Report for 1984. Australian Birds. 20:97-132.

Magrath, M.J.L., M.A. Weston, P. Olsen & M. Antos (2004). Draft Survey Standards for Birds: Species Accounts. Melbourne, Victoria: Report for the Department of the Environment and Heritage by Birds Australia.

Mayr, E. & J.C. Greenway, eds. (1962). Check-list of Birds of the World. In: Volume 15. Museum of Comparative Zoology, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

McAllan, I.A.W., B.R. Curtis, I. Hutton & R.M. Cooper (2004). The birds of the Lord Howe Island Group: a review of records. Australian Field Ornithology. 21:1-82.

McFarland, D. (undated). Personal communication.

McFarland, D.C. (1994). Notes on the Lord Howe Island Currawong Strepera graculina crissalis. Australian Bird Watcher. 15:310--313.

Mills, K. (undated). Birds Observed on Lord Howe Island - Unpublished report.

NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change (NSW DECC) (2007b). Lord Howe Island Biodiversity Management Plan. [Online]. Sydney, NSW: NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/recovery/lord-howe/index.html.

Pickard, J. (1983). Vegetation of Lord Howe Island. Cunninghamia. 1:133-265.

Prawiradilaga, D.M. (1996). Foraging Ecology of Pied Currawongs, Strepera graculina, in Recently Colonised Areas of Their Range. Ph.D. thesis. Ph.D. Thesis. Australian National University.

Schodde, R. & I.J. Mason (1999). The Directory of Australian Birds: Passerines. Melbourne, Victoria: CSIRO.

Sharland, M.S.R. (1929). Land birds of Lord Howe Island. Emu. 29:5-11.

Sibley, C.G. & B.L. Monroe (1990). Distribution and Taxonomy of the Birds of the World. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press.

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This database is designed to provide statutory, biological and ecological information on species and ecological communities, migratory species, marine species, and species and species products subject to international trade and commercial use protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). It has been compiled from a range of sources including listing advice, recovery plans, published literature and individual experts. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, no guarantee is given, nor responsibility taken, by the Commonwealth for its accuracy, currency or completeness. The Commonwealth does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the information contained in this database. The information contained in this database does not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth. This database is not intended to be a complete source of information on the matters it deals with. Individuals and organisations should consider all the available information, including that available from other sources, in deciding whether there is a need to make a referral or apply for a permit or exemption under the EPBC Act.

Citation: Department of the Environment (2014). Strepera graculina crissalis in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Thu, 17 Apr 2014 07:22:37 +1000.