Currawongs are medium-sized passerine birds of the family Artamidae native to Australasia. There are either three or four species (depending on whether the Australian Magpie is counted as a currawong or not). The common name comes from the call of the familiar Pied Currawong of eastern Australia and is onomatopoeic. An older name was Crow-shrike, though this is not used currently.
The true currawongs are a little larger than the Australian Magpie, somewhat smaller than most ravens, but broadly similar in appearance. They are easily distinguished by their yellow eyes, in contrast to the red eyes of a magpie and white eyes of Australian crows and ravens. They are not as terrestrial as the Magpie and have shorter legs. They are omnivorous, foraging in foliage, on tree trunks and limbs, and on the ground, taking insects and larvae (often dug out from under the bark of trees), fruit, and the nestlings of other birds. They are easily identifiable from magpies and crows by their almost comic flight style in amongst foliage, appearing to almost fall about from branch to branch as if they were inept flyers.
It is sometimes said, with at least some justice, that the home gardener can have either currawongs or small birds, but not bothâ€”although part of this perception can be traced to the failure of many gardeners to provide a sufficient number of dense, thorny shrubs as refuges.