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Australian Magpie (white back)

Cracticus tibicen tyrannica


A medium sized diurnal passerine member of Cracticidae about 40 cm. long. Native to Australia and southern New Guinea. Colour is black with white patches on back, under tail and beak. It has medium to long grey legs and brown eyes. This is a highly intelligent bird which spends a long time training it's young before sending them off to build their own home. They have a beautiful but complex range of warbles and often sound off in groups using very complex and lengthy passages. They omnivorous but sometimes selective with respect to diet. Extremely territorial at nesting time and will threaten any life form nearby. They have been known to kill people within their territory.


Australia wide. At least 9 sub-species. Introduced to NZ, Solomons, Fiji.


We have been occasionally feeding several generations of these birds in our area, mostly because of an extended 10 year drought, and have got to know them very well. We have noticed some amazing things about them (too many to list here) but even after not seeing older offspring for several years they may suddenly turn up and call us out. Their calls are incredibly complex I would find it very hard to believe that they are not communicating complex ideas to each other. An all-time favourite bird. Sorry about the poor photo... I needed to tidy the background in this. There are several subspecies divided generally into 'white backs' and black backs' . Here's a spotting of a 'black back'

No species ID suggestions


maplemoth662 11 months ago

A beautiful photo....

Mark Ridgway
Mark Ridgway 6 years ago

Thanks a lot williefromwi. As you might have noticed I need the occasional break from fungi ! (I hope I'm learning something about these pesky mushrooms)

williefromwi 6 years ago

very nice photo, and great information on this spotting ArgyBee

Wild Things
Wild Things 6 years ago

Pretty bird!

Aaron_G 6 years ago

Wow! Great image!

LeanneGardner 6 years ago

I think it's a fantastic shot Argy! I love Magpies & sadly they have a bad reputation at times. I work for a landscaping firm & on one massive job, one maggie to a real dislike to me. He swooped me constantly for the entire 3 weeks! I was ever so grateful for my large wide-brim hat. I was the only female on the job, whether that had something to do with his dislike of me, I dont know. Great shot :)

KarenL 6 years ago

Very nice! Sounds like these guys have a more melodic call then their european cousins - living in England I was woken most mornings with their raucous "cawing"!

Maria dB
Maria dB 6 years ago

Striking bird! At a nature reserve I visit often, there is another photographer who is always playing bird calls on his cell phone so that he can attract and spot the birds he wants to photograph. The wonders of technology!

Mark Ridgway
Mark Ridgway 6 years ago

That would have been interesting. Not many people know that the whipbird sound is usually a two-part call - male and female. I once found that I could cause the response with my own whistle... great for a laugh in the bush but I felt a bit sorry for them.

DanielePralong 6 years ago

I had a funny experience recording whip birds in Binna Burra last March. After I got what I thought was a particularly nice couple of calls I played the recording back while still walking to check the quality. Another whip bird answered! Chance? I waited a bit and tried again and again and it worked every time: call and response:-)

Mark Ridgway
Mark Ridgway 6 years ago

Good idea. I must say though that no matter how hard I have tried I don't think they say the same thing twice ever. I've tried copying their calls and they always stop everything and look as if to say 'what on earth are you talking about !?' :) Then again maybe I'm imagining it.

DanielePralong 6 years ago

In any case you can hear real magpies everyday:-) But I hope Noah members who have never heard them will appreciate:-)

Mark Ridgway
Mark Ridgway 6 years ago

Hi Daniele - yes I have had a look at it but because I have security gadgets to stop net pests, the site didn't work properly. I will lower guards have another look soon :) Seems a good idea.

DanielePralong 6 years ago

Love the Australian magpie:-)
Do you know this site Argy?

Victoria, Australia

Lat: -37.90, Long: 145.31

Spotted on May 13, 2012
Submitted on May 13, 2012

Spotted for mission


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