Australian Magpie

The white-backed Australian Magpie (Gymnorhina tibicen) is the race that we see at the Urrbrae Wetland. The male is a large glossy black bird, pure white from nape to tail and with shoulder and underwing band white also. The eye is orange-brown, the bill is pale blue with a black tip and the legs are black. The female has a mottled grey back and immatures are like dull females, the bill is grey and shorter and eyes are black.

The voice is a rich, mellow, organ-like carolling.

Magpies live in groups of 2 to 10, and are strongly territorial. They feed mostly on the ground.

Their flight is swift and direct, with noisy lashings of wings. The are aggressive to humans near nesting and at breeding time (June to December). They can kill smaller birds and house mice. They can become very tame in parks and gardens.

Their nest is a compact, shallow bowl of sticks in a fork or branch in an outer part of the tree, from 3m to 10m height. They lay 2 to 3 eggs.

There are three races of Australian Magpie - white backed, black backed and western. They readily hybridise, particularly the white and black backed races. (Contributed by Jo G.)