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The Australian Magpie is a medium-sized black and white passerine bird native to Australia and southern New Guinea. A member of the Cracticidae, it is closely related to the Butcherbirds. The adult Australian Magpie is a fairly robust bird ranging from 37 to 43cms (14.5–17 in) in length, with distinctive black and white plumage, chestnut brown eyes and a solid wedge-shaped bluish-white and black bill. The male and female are similar in appearance, and can be distinguished by differences in back markings. Its nape, upper tail and shoulder are white in males, grey in females. Juveniles also have the grey nape. Across most of Australia, the remainder of the body is black. In the south-east, centre, extreme south-west and Tasmania, the back and rump are entirely white. With its long legs, the Australian Magpie walks rather than waddles or hops and spends much time on the ground searching for insects and their larvae. These birds will also take handouts from humans and will often venture into open houses to beg for food. (NB: I don't know if this young bird is male or female yet and will only be able to tell when it reaches adulthood. It's only then that a fully mature male's nape will turn completely white, as it is with the adult male in this series).
Australian Magpies are common and conspicuous birds. A group (called a 'tiding') of up to 24 birds lives year round in its territory which is actively defended by all members, although I saw one group a couple of years ago near Bangalow in northern NSW that would have been closer to 40 birds, possibly more. It was like a town meeting! The group depends on this territory for its feeding, roosting and nesting requirements, and they can be quite aggressive during the nesting period. These birds are found wherever there is a combination of trees and adjacent open areas, including parks and playing fields. They are absent only from the densest forests and arid deserts. They are very common in suburbia, cities and towns alike.
I adore Maggies! They are intelligent, inquisitive, bold, playful, and comical. I've watched this little one grow since it was very young. Now he/she is very comfortable in my presence and will come to within a few inches of me and just stare, hoping always for a handout whilst I eat my lunch. Fresh fruit is usually the order of the day, but I don't necessarily encourage hand feeding. Quite often the Magpie family will just peck around the grass looking for insects. I always enjoy their company.
Spotted on May 6, 2013
Submitted on May 6, 2013