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Species Guide

Black Currawong

Strepera fuliginosa

The black currawong, known locally as the black jay, is a robust passerine bird endemic to the verdant landscapes of Tasmania and the Bass Strait islands. This crow-like avian, with its striking yellow irises, heavy bill, and predominantly black plumage adorned with white wing patches, is a sight to behold. Both sexes present a similar appearance, and the species boasts an average length of 50 cm, making it a rather conspicuous presence in its native habitats.

Identification Tips

Observers should note the black currawong's yellow eyes, black bill and legs, and the distinctive white patches at the tips of the wings and tail feathers. In flight, the white tips trace the trailing edges of the wings, and a paler arc across the primary flight feathers' bases is visible on the underwing. Juveniles may exhibit a browner tinge to their plumage and possess a yellow gape until around two years of age.


The black currawong favors densely forested areas and alpine heathland, thriving in wetter eucalypt forests and cool rainforests. It is a rarity below altitudes of 200 meters, preferring the lofty heights where the air is crisp and the vegetation lush.


This species is a proud Tasmanian endemic, with its presence widespread across the island, particularly above 200 meters in altitude. It is also found on many islands within the Bass Strait, though it is notably absent from the Kent Group.


The black currawong is generally sedentary, with some populations descending to lower altitudes during the cooler months. It is less arboreal than its pied counterpart, spending ample time foraging on the ground and roosting and breeding in trees.

Song & Calls

The vocal repertoire of the black currawong is diverse, with its main call a distinctive kar and wheek sound, or a killok killok that is quite unlike the calls of the pied or grey currawongs. These calls are often more frequent before rain or storms, and parents use a long fluting whistle to summon their young.


Breeding season spans from August to December, with nests constructed in tree forks and lined with softer materials. Clutches typically consist of two to four eggs, with both parents involved in feeding the altricial chicks.

Similar Species

The black currawong can be distinguished from the clinking currawong by the absence of a white rump and larger white wing patches. It also has a heavier bill and a unique call. The forest and little ravens, while similar in size, lack the white wing patches and have white eyes instead of yellow.

Diet and Feeding

An omnivorous bird, the black currawong's diet includes berries, invertebrates, and small vertebrates. It forages on the ground and in tree canopies, often in pairs or larger groups, and has been known to adapt to human presence, scavenging in picnic areas and parks.

Conservation status

The black currawong is currently evaluated as least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. However, the subspecies Strepera fuliginosa colei of King Island is listed as vulnerable, with an estimated population of around 500 birds, possibly impacted by habitat clearance and competition with the forest raven.

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Black Currawongs on Birda


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