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Australian Magpies (1 Viewer)

sebiiau

Avian Snapper
Hi all glad to have found this place!

Just curious, as I have observed some strange behaviour amongst the Magpies Gymnorhina tibicen in this area. They fly around in what seems to be a very planned display...they seem to attack each other in mid-air repeatedly and fly around each other landing, calling and displaying with raised wings occasionally. This goes on for about half an hour and there is at least one juvenile involved.

My first guess is that it some kind of strange way of establishing a pecking order. It is truly a sight to see!

Has anyone else (assuming someone here is from Australia) experienced this display?
 

SueO

Well-known member
Hi Sibiiau,

Welcome to Bird Forum. I did see lots of the magpies while we were in Oz, but I never saw any displays, sorry I can't help. Maybe someone with knowlege will come in. Since you're coming to your winter, it will interesting to learn what the display is. I really enjoyed the Magpies, they were very smart. I watched mom and dad teach a young one to find worms. They would walk along then cock their heads to listen then get the prey. It didn't take junior long to catch on. If I could find my Ruby Slippers, I'd be in Oz in two clicks. Lucky Dog.
 

Chris D

Well-known member
Your ruby slippers are being held for ransome. As for magpies ---- I think their actions can be explained just by saying "They're Magpies". Gotta be one of the strangest birds I've had the pleasure of spending time with. Sounds like I'm talking about my wife....... Anyway, I remember being on Stradbroke Island once and seeing an immature magpie lying face down on the ground with it's wings slightly spread. There were a few adult magpies there just walking around. I crouched down and touched it. Then grabbed it and shook the bird a bit. Assumed it was dead. Then it got up - walked over to the adults -- then they went on their merry way. I'm sure Australia's ancestral people have a great tie to this bird.
 

sebii

Avian Peeper
Well my partner believes they are "playing", but I am a bit skeptical of such simplistic explanations. It would seem strange to me that they would do this every single day at the same time of day. Interestingly, today I observed a few Magpies nearby feeding on the fruit trees in the garden that did not become involved whatsoever (beyond the occasional call). This is also strange to me as their diet is supposedly predominantly made up of invertebrates yet they fed there for nearly an hour.

I know Magpies are extremely territorial so I am thinking that must have something to do with it. I am very keen to find out what this behaviour actually means. A documentary I once saw featuring David Attenborough where he talked about the hierarchical system in which House Sparrows feed inspired me. This discovery in their behaviour only happened last century yet they are one of the most common birds available for study to ornithologists.

Chris, my partner also recently observed a Magpie lying flat on its back that appeared to be dead with others walking around it. She walked into the local shop and when she came out it was gone! Something else that is not well documented...

P.S to the admin: without realising it I just logged in with the username I usually use on other sites and it turns out I already have an account here from 5 years ago :D Please feel free to delete the sebiiau account.
 
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Antman

New member
Magpies do what is called 'anting' whereby they lay down in an ant line and allow the ants to eat off them (so to speak). Maybe getting any parasites or dead skin etc.....

Regarding the calling and raised wing behaviour, it sounds very much like Magpie-lark behaviour. I don't mean to insinuate you don't know what a magpie is but the calling and raised wings is very magpie-lark like.

Ant
 

chowchilla

Maderator.
I must live in just about the only part of Aus which doesn't have Magpies! Plenty of Magpie Larks but no Magpies...

Mind you, I see them on the tablelands often enough and they must be one of Aus' smartest birds; endlessly curious and inquisitive, and yes, aggressive!. I reckon there's a lot we don't know about them.
 

Chris D

Well-known member
I miss Australia. Perhaps this Christmas. Pies, mangoes, honey eaters, those nasty green ants........
 

sebii

Avian Peeper
Magpies do what is called 'anting' whereby they lay down in an ant line and allow the ants to eat off them (so to speak). Maybe getting any parasites or dead skin etc.....

Regarding the calling and raised wing behaviour, it sounds very much like Magpie-lark behaviour. I don't mean to insinuate you don't know what a magpie is but the calling and raised wings is very magpie-lark like.

LOL! No I am 100% certain I am talking about Magpies. I am sure raised wings and calling is common behaviour amongst many different species.

I had not heard of 'anting' before but it sounds interesting, particularly as from what I understand most species of the common black ants we have in Australia are actually introduced. Any ideas as to what this display may be?

Incidentally on one of twelve odd occasions a Magpie-Lark did in fact join in the strange display but was promptly chased off.
 

sebii

Avian Peeper
Now for the latest installment about these crazy New England Magpies. I heard the wildest commotion on Sunday afternoon when I heard a massive flock of Galahs circuling near our house. I ran outside, pulled out the binoculars and to my surprise I saw four Magpies circling the flock! They herded them about 500m south of our house before the Galahs gave in and continued flying south.

Thee New England Magpies are baffling!
 

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