Family Woodswallows and Butcherbirds (Artamidae)

Least Concern

Grey Currawong (Strepera versicolor)


French: Réveilleur cendré German: Rußkrähenstar Spanish: Verdugo cenizo

C[orvus]. versicolor


, 1801,

Sydney region, New South Wales, Australia


Races very variable in plumage colour and pattern, and long regarded as forming four separate species, one in SE South Australia (intermedia), one in mallee and scrublands of SW New South Wales S to Kangaroo I and extreme NW Victoria (melanoptera and halmaturina), one in Tasmania (arguta), and one covering rest of range (plumbea and nominate); however, races intergrade wherever they come into contact with one another, and better treated as a single species. Thus, melanoptera intergrades with nominate from South Australia–Victoria border E to Grampian Ranges in N and to Cape Otway in S; possible intergradation of plumbea with intermedia E through Great Victoria Desert uncertain but likely. Proposed race howei (Kow Plains, in NW Victoria) represents an intergrade population; centralia (Everard Ranges, in NW South Australia) indistinguishable from plumbea. Six subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. v. plumbea Gould, 1846 – from SW Western Australia (S from Geraldton) E, discontinuously, to extreme SW Northern Territory (Petermann Ranges) and W South Australia (Musgrave and Everard Ranges, and in Great Victoria Desert).
  • S. v. versicolor (Latham, 1801) – Grey Currawong – SE New South Wales (from Hunter R) S, inland to W slopes of Great Dividing Range, to W Victoria (Grampians and, on coast, to Port Phillip Bay).
  • S. v. intermedia Sharpe, 1877 – Brown Currawong – South Australia from Ooldea E along coast (S of Nullarbor Plain) to Yorke Peninsula.
  • S. v. melanoptera Gould, 1846 – Black-winged Currawong – SE South Australia (S Flinders Ranges S to Fleurieu Peninsula and Mt Lofty Ranges) E to mallee areas of NW Victoria.
  • S. v. halmaturina Mathews, 1912 – Kangaroo I, off South Australia.
  • S. v. arguta Gould, 1846 – Clinking Currawong – N & E Tasmania (E of line joining Devonport and Hobart).
  • Descriptive notes

    44–57 cm; 300–500 g. Large, like a raven (Corvus) but more slender, with long, heavy, conical bill only slightly hooked at tip and forming almost... read more


    Best-known call, uttered in flight, "tew-tew" or "kling-kling" (usually... read more


    Found in temperate forest to arid shrubland habitats. Eucalypt (Eucalyptus) forests and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Omnivorous; no detailed studies. Wide variety of insects; also small vertebrates, including lizards, birds and their nestlings, small... read more


    Little known. Eggs in Jul–Dec, varying with locality; fledglings to mid-Feb. Breeds as pair, in territory maintained all year. Nest... read more


    Sedentary at many sites. In Tasmania and highland areas of SE Australia, some possibly descend to... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Locally common to uncommon. Has evidently declined throughout range. In Western Australia, range of race plumbea has decreased with clearing... read more

    Recommended citation

    Russell, E. & Rowley, I. (2020). Grey Currawong (Strepera versicolor). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 25 February 2020).