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White-winged Chough

Life in the air

"The adult birds have reddish eyes which look quite fearsome, particularly when accompanied by a long, black and downward curving beak"

Peter Hylands, Andrea Hylands

September 25, 2022

The White-winged Chough, a bird that constantly communicates with its group, adding to the cacophony of bird sounds in the Australian woodland in the Southern and Eastern parts of the Australian mainland. We typically only see them in forests and the species is therefore impacted by extensive land clearing practices in Australia. 

White-winged Chough


The White-winged Chough Corcorax melanorhamphos lives in the drier forests of East and South East Australia, the bird's range, extending into Queensland to the North and South Australia to the West, with sightings occurring into Western Australia.


The White-winged Chough spends much of its time on the forest floor scratching and digging around leaves and small twigs to reveal its diet, including seeds, worms and insects.

The way the birds move in groups along the ground makes them easy to identify, and because the group appears to act as one, the birds are flighty, if one bird goes the lot move on, this means there is always plenty to watch. Because of this distinctive group behaviour they are hard to photograph as stillness does not appear to be a feature in this bird’s life.

The White-winged Chough lived on our wildlife property in Central Victoria and the group of a dozen or so birds appeared to remain within our lands and in the dry forest that made up much of the property. It was always great to have them around.


Once disturbed the group moves off and then settles again at a distance. There were young birds in the flock we photographed in Southern New South Wales and the young birds were particularly noisy when it came to asking for food. The adult birds have reddish eyes which look quite fearsome, particularly when accompanied by a long, black and downward curving beak. The young have brownish coloured eyes which turn to orange and then red as the young bird matures to adulthood.

Choughs are very sociable birds which live in flocks of a dozen or sometimes more, travelling through the bush as a group and moving off a short distance when disturbed. The composition of the flock is also interesting and is likely to be made up of breeding adults and their helpers, some of which have been 'kidnapped' from other flocks.


These engaging birds are mud nesters, these bowl shaped mud nests are built by the group and nests may have eggs from more than one female. After leaving the nest, the flightless young are vulnerable to cats and other introduced predators.