Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Wild Bird Wednesday 197 - White-winged Chough

During my trip on to Serendip Sanctuary this Saturday I was very pleased to encounter a flock of 30 or more White-winged Choughs.  I have never managed to get any pictures of this species before, so I  was thrilled to be able to sit almost in the middle of this flock as they washed in a spring and generally did some plumage maintenance.

I have always found this species a bit 'flighty' and have never been able to get up this close to them before.  The behaviour of this flock was much more in line with the 'text books' that say these birds are often tame and approachable.

The White-winged Chough (Corcorax melanorhamphos) is a member of the of a group of birds called the "Australian Mud Nesters" which reflects the fact that they make their nests from mud!  But much more interesting is that they are 'obligate co-coperative' breeders.  This means that an adult breeding pair can only successful breed when it has help from other birds.  These 'other birds' are often the offspring of the pair from previous years.  This breeding strategy is through necessary because of the difficulty just two birds would have in finding enough food to feed the current years chicks.

A number of people have suggested that this 'cooperative' approach, which is found in more species of birds in Australia than anywhere else in the world, is a result of Australia's highly variable climate.    A little bit of reading suggests that what I saw was in fact the aggregation of a number of breeding groups rather than one large one.   I have to say watching them was great fun as the squabbled and bickered with each other!












As you can see from the final image, the white-wing is not always visible - and can only be seen clearly when the bird is in flight.

Click on the familiar blue button to join in with WBW!

39 comments:

  1. That sounds like an extended family alright. They may cooperate, but getting along is another matter.

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  2. Awesome and rather sinister looking birds! Love the eyes and the beak!

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  3. I believe about 8% of bird species adopt this cooperative strategy. Great you could get these super shots of the extended family.

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  4. Hello Stewart, they are beautiful. I like their red eyes. Great collection of photos. Thnaks for hosting. Have a happy week!

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  5. Whoa ... this is quite a story. I have never heard of the White-winged Chough, let alone a bird that requires group participation for mating. That is another bit of proof that birds are much smarter than we give them credit for. I think man is just so full of himself that he overlooks the abilities of other species. This is awesome and I am happy for you that you finally got to be in amongst the group :)The pictures are awesome ... what other birds in Austrailia use cooperation in mating? I am very curious.

    Andrea @ From The Sol

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  6. I have seen these birds while I was inAustralia however not is these numbers

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  7. I am so glad that you showed the wing open as well, I was beginning to wonder where the name came from. Great photos Diane

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  8. Very handsome with their red eyes.

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  9. Interesting birds. Love the red eyes and the details about their breeding behavior!

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  10. Stewart,observing is a great way to learn...I love it and find I can spend hours in the woods...:)JP

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  11. beautiful images! very striking birds!

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  12. Great series of photos.

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  13. How interesting that the other birds have to help them nest. They have such a striking white on the feathers. Wonderful series of photos Stewart.

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  14. Great photos as always! I was surprised to learn that a chough was a bird after hearing that word used as a slang term by my English friends for so long!

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  15. I love these birds, Stewart, thanks so much for sharing! They are very uncommon in South-east Queensland so I've never seen one. Their big personalities remind me of two other dry country birds that move in family groups, the grey-crowned babbler and apostlebird; I love seeing those two, so I'm sure I will love the chough.

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  16. Love 'action' aspect you caught in these photos.

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  17. What fun you've had capturing these Stewart! Great shot of the preening process.

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  18. Hi Stewart, thanks for the photos and the interesting information on these birds. Our Black-collared Barbets are hole nesters and have cooperative breeding habits - also normally getting help from earlier offspring. Thanks for hosting this meme. (I can't find the blue button to link up - but will be back later to check) Greetings Jo

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  19. That flash of white in the wings is very striking. Interesting behavior and your discussion thereof. I especially liked the photo of the three lined up on a branch.

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  20. Love these birds. Particular drawn to them in line-up...shot #9

    cheers

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  21. Great bird...they do look as if they're meeting to plan their day (or attack).

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  22. Stewart, interesting bird. Thanks for sharing.

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  23. They are a bit intimidating with their red eyes - but I love their black (and white) plumage! Your description sounds similar to our Great-tailed Grackles. Great captures, Stewart.

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  24. Cool birds! Love those eyes.

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  25. They certainly look like they mean business!

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  26. a beautiful bird actually. And you had a nice encounter. I have notes that we did see it on my visit in Queensland but I don´t think I have any images.

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  27. Another interesting bird. Thanks for introducing it to us.

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  28. Great photos..They sound like our grackles who arrive in swarms!!..Pretty wings..love the contrast..Enjoy your week..

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  29. Great bird! I'd have never known it had white. Love the eyes!

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  30. gorgeous photos and terrific that you included all that background info on them. Amazing what the animal world can do!
    Love the red eyes!

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  31. Excellent pictures great detail!

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  32. Gorgeous photos Stewart!You are one up on me with these birds. Not only have I ever seen one, I've never even heard of them until your post.

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  33. It's a long time since I've thought about those birds...a long, long time..

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  34. Wow! I had never heard of or seen these birds!

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  35. Such a pretty bird! Understated beauty.

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  36. An interesting bird and life style.

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  37. What wonderful shots. Greetings!

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  38. This is a fascinating post! Such great photos. They are interesting birds. I am behind with my bird blogger friends because I've gotten so few bird photos lately. I hope the finches sharing the quail block with the rabbit will be good enough for this week's WBW!

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