White-Winged Chough – Our 45th Bird Species

These shy birds took off before I could get close to them. However, the black beak, black feet, black plumage, and the white patch on the wings when they flew away all confirm the species.

I wish I could display a close-up of these birds for the 45th bird species found on our property, but the flock of White-Winged Choughs were very shy.   It is the second time I have seen them in two weeks, but I don’t recall seeing or hearing them prior to this. Their voice is very distinctive and whistle-like in tone, loudly descending from a high note to a low note.  Both times I have come across the flock, they were on the ground.  They were all very alert, and  they flew to the treetops at the first hint of my presence, so I have only been able to glimpse them from a distance.

The Pizzey and Knight Field Guide to the Birds of Australia has very good descriptions of their habits.  White-Winged Choughs like to feed on the ground, and they also have dust baths.  This accounts for the scratched up ground below the trees they are photographed in.  My favourite description in Pizzey and Knight is “indulges in anting” – well, with the number of ant colonies we have here, they are most welcome to indulge as much as they like!

The birds breed some time between August to December, and build mud nests on horizontal branches of trees.  Apparently the dominant group will cooperate to raise the young together. I’m not sure exactly how this works, but it seems that this species is very social.

You may be wondering why these birds are named the White-Winged Chough when they are totally black.  When the birds fly, they reveal a large white patch on their wings.  This is quite distinctive and allows for easy identification.  I hope to come across the flock again soon so I can have another opportunity to photograph them.


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