Magpie.JPG (35959 bytes)Australian Magpie (Gymnorhina tibicen): is one of the best-known Australian birds. They are conspicuous large black and white birds (ranging in length from 370 to 440 millimetres) with pointed, whitish, black-tipped beak. The males are mostly glossy black with prominent white neck, shoulder and wing band. Females are similar to males except their necks are greyer.
The species feeds mostly on the ground in family parties. They seem to be able to detect the presence of worms and insects under the ground. Family members often play. Magpies become very tame when they are in close contact with humans. This is very noticeable in parks and gardens. The bird illustrated is a constant visitor to a picnic area in Oxley Wild Rivers National Park.
Their call is famous throughout Australia and is described as flute or organ-like carolling. Magpies sometimes call at night usually when the moon is full or almost so.
The Australian Magpie is found throughout the continent including Tasmania. They are also found in New Guinea and have been introduced into New Zealand.
Throughout their range there is variation in the black and white colouring but they are still recognised as Magpies.
Magpies nest in trees at least five metres above ground. The nest is constructed of sticks and twigs. Where there is a shortage of vegetation Magpies have used wire in nest construction.
During the spring breeding season Magpies may become aggressive and dive at people near trees with nests. This belligerent behaviour only occurs for a few weeks. For the rest of the year, Magpies and humans live in harmony.
We have a family, of Magpies, that spend most of the day on the mown area near our house. These Yallaroo Magpies have never been hostile in the ten years that we have lived at Yallaroo.