Wet and Aggressive Corella challenges Magpie

Wet and Aggressive Corella challenges Magpie

Monday, 20 August 2012

Magpies

But, before I get to the bird of the day.  The wattles that signify Spring is just around the corner are starting to blaze from the road side.

'This here's the wattle, the emblem of our land. You can stick it in a bottle, you can hold it in your hand.  Australia, Australia, Australia' ( Monty Python - spoken by one of the Bruces.)



Magpies are among our less colourful birds and since they are extremely protective parents will swoop people walking or cycling close to their nests.  The swooping is disconcerting to say the least as it is accompanied by the sound of a clattering beak.  While it is often scary but no more than that, each Spring they will connect with someone causing sometimes severe damage.

Our local council, along with many others, puts up signs to warn pedestrians of the danger from particular birds.  The birds are not relocated or harmed unless they cause actual damage.  Pedestrians wear hats with eyes painted on them or carry sticks and cyclists have plastic fronds attached to their bike helmets.  These measures may or may not work.






So, we have a relatively plain bird, which can be frightening and/or dangerous.  Just the same I love them, and they signify home to me.  This post is for Mia McPherson who commented here a while ago that she loved the currawong's call.  It is beautiful, but it is the magpie's warble which has won my heart.  (Mia and her friend Ron Dudley take the most incredible bird photos which put this happy snapper to shame.)

Each time I go into town to do a shift at Lifeline the early morning city sounds are dominated by magpies calling to each other from building to building.  They also are more than happy to scrounge breakfast from passersby.

While the pictorial quality in these short videos is not great, I think they capture the magpie warble.










89 comments:

  1. I think your photos are super. The magpie has lovely coloring and I enjoyed their calls on your video. We have a bird who swoops at people at nesting time, it's on the tip of my tongue but I cannot remember which one it is.

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    1. Denise: Thank you. Mia and Ron's photos are just out of this world.

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    1. mybabyjohn/Delores: Eerie? I always think of it as a joyful greeting to the day, and a salute to the sunset as well.

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  3. I can hear them calling while I write this comment. They are beautiful regal birds (even if they can be a little scary when swooping). We have a family or two that regularly forage in our garden for grubs and use the scattered twigs from our Agonis flexuosa (native weeping peppermint) for their nests. The are extremely intelligent and can mimic sounds. We had one at work once that used to mimic the fire engines (there is a fire station not far away and we regularly have them rushing past sirens blazing). It also used to mimic other bird calls. xx

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    1. Kakka: I didn't know they are mimics! I knew that they are very intelligent birds, but I have only heard them make their own beautiful call. I will have to keep a better eye and ear on them - thank you.

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  4. I think your photos look great.. and the Magpies look stunning with their black and white feathers. They have a unique sound.

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    1. Pam:): Thank you - if you get the chance, do check out the glorious bird photos that Mia and Ron put up - they really are incredible.

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  5. I love them, too! And this poem, which manages to spell the sound of their call
    https://www.dpmms.cam.ac.uk/~tf/poem10.html

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    1. dinahmow: Thank you lots - I hadn't ever come across that poem, and it is close to the mark.

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  6. I love Magpies - such an intelligent bird - and we have them all around us. We live next to a school and they cause no problems, even in 'nesting season' as the school kids always feed them scraps from their lunch boxes. They know when they are on a good thing. I can whistle our local pair down off the roof and they always bring each batch of young birds - just out of the nest - in to say 'Hello' and to let the young know that our yard is a 'safe place' for them to learn to find food in.

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    1. JohnD: I am so glad to have another magpie lover. I am always fascinated by what they will eat - those that come to our feeder eat seed - but not apples. (The currawongs eat apple but not seed.) A neighbour feeds the magpies bread, my father had a magpie family which was partial to bacon rinds and someone who came to our door last week said he fed them cheese. And worms, grubs and snails of course.

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  7. My daughter spent a semester in Australia when she went to college and I remember her telling me about these birds. She came close to being attacked by a few of them.

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    1. Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe: It sounds as if the magpies made quite an impression on your daughter. They really are a delightful bird for most of the year, and only require a little caution for a short period. I have never been swooped in our yard, though at least two of our cats have. One of them crapped on a cat as well - and I am sure it was deliberate.

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  8. Magpies are the same the world over--dangerous, dashing, and lyrical. Great photos!

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  9. I love the scent of wattle.

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    1. Karen: I do as well, but it is a major hayfever trigger for a lot of people

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  10. That must be so scarey when they swoop at you chattering their beaks! But they are beautiful anyway. Beautiful sound they make!

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    1. Teresa: It isn't fun being swooped, but they are just being protective parents. If you give them space around the nest then they very rarely swoop. And their song is just magical.

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  11. They sound quite flute-like to my ear - would that be accurate or is my speakers? Lovely call!

    I am dredging back a few years in my memory for this, but I think I remember reading that magpies like shiny things and will collect them for storage in their nests. Have you ever known this to happen?

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    1. is *IT* my speakers (sorry, I should read one last time before hitting publish)

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    2. jenny_o: Wikipedia talks of flute, and I don't disagree but think that other instruments also come into play. I don't know of them collecting shiny baubles for their nests. It may be the English magpies which like shiny things. I know my father used to tell me that my love of earrings was 'magpie like'.

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  12. We have a park just down the road which has swooping Magpies and every weekend when i'm out walking with my next door neighbour and we walk through this park she always asks will the Magpies swoop, she's totally frightened of 'em.

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    1. Windsmoke: Your poor neighbour. I am guessing she doesn't like their song.

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  13. Mr. RK got swooped by a bat, but they don't see so well, so I don't think it was sinister ;)

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    1. Riot Kitty: And being swooped by a bat would probably be less frightening than being swooped by a magpie with its beak clattering at you...

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  14. The magpie song is glorious. I am fond of them, but have mixed feelings, due to their swooping. There was a large gum tree in my garden in Canberra, and they nested there, and would swoop all the little children walking to and from the school, which was just at the end of the street and across the road. The little kids would be scared and were likely to blunder onto the road, and thus risk being hit be cars coming over the crest of the hill. From time to time I used to contact the chief magpie exterminator/protector, who was always very unwilling to do anything to remove the nest. They's ask the colour of my children's hair, and when advised that they had red hair, would say 'Ah well,, you know, they go for red hair...'

    PS I will be in Canberra at the end of the week for child-minding duties. Maybe we could have coffee somewhere, if you feel so inclined?

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    1. persiflage: It is glorious and these days my feelings for them are all positive.
      Meeting you for a cuppa would be lovely. I have sent an email to you.

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  15. We have many magpies living in the trees within the complex. I love to hear them warbling, but I'm a little apprehensive about walking to and from the bus during spring. I used to swing my bag around my head while walking, but I'm not sure I can still do that with my shoulders being the way they are. I may just wear my bike helmet.

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    1. River: Your bike helmet should do the trick for the short time they can be a problem.

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  16. Love this. Fresh and captivating.

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  17. I don't think I've ever heard a magpie warble. It's haunting, isn't it? And just where do you get hats with eyes on them?

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    1. barbfroman: Our magpies are different to yours and I am not sure whether yours warble. It is a wonderful sound (I think). Hats with eyes? Child labour is a good start...

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  18. We don't have magpies where I live, so it was quite interesting to learn about their protective behavior. Smart birds!

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    1. One Minnesota Writer: I was fascinated to learn that there are Magpies in the UK, in the US, and in Oz - and that they are all different.

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  19. Not a magpie to have here in Minnesota! Beautiful song...

    Pearl

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  20. I have seen a lot of magpies in both NZ and the UK, but have never heard about their attacking people. Do you suppose your Australian ones are particularly aggressive? Or have I just missed something in those places. I don't think they are native to NZ. Are they in Australia?

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    1. Anne: Our Magpies are native to Australia and parts of New Guinea. They were introduced to NZ, to try and eradicate insect pests. Since then they have got some bad (and unsubstantiated press) about their impact on NZ birds.

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  21. Dear EC, thank you for sharing the call of the magpie. Once again, this bird and its song are all new to me. I think that the southeastern part of the United States have magpies, but I've never been to those southern states. You know you've taught me so much about birds and about Australia. I so enjoyed those postings you did on the art and sculptures on the city sidewalks there. Take care of yourself. Peace.

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    1. Dee: I hope you are feeling much, much better. Our magpies are different to yours and I suspect that the songs are as well. I think it shows a complete lack of imagination to give the name magpie to three different birds in three different places.

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  22. Been a long time since I saw a magpie (one for a girl, two for a boy). That sounded a bit like R2D2! :D

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    1. CarrieBoo: R2D2 cracked me up. Thanks. Our magpie rhyme seems, (like the birds) to be different.
      One for sorrow,
      Two for joy,
      Three for a wedding,
      Four for a boy,
      Five for silver,
      Six for gold
      Seven for the secret never to be told
      Eight for heaven,
      Nine for hell,
      Ten is the one for the devil himself.

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  23. Magpies steal the eggs of other birds and they also take baby birds from other birds' nests. For that reason I am glad to see no more than one or two around nesting time.

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    1. Friko: The Australian Magpie does not commit those crimes. Its diet is mostly invertebrates, and it is predominantly a ground feeder. It does seem to like a bit of variety - hence bread, bacon, bits of mince, cheese and the like.

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  24. For some reason, I think of Magpies and I think of football. Newcastle United are nicknamed the "Magpies".
    Anyway, I listened to their interesting warble. However, maybe it's my ears, but I could of sworn I heard a sneeze at the end. Surely not a magpie :)
    Thanks for this and take good care.
    Gary

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    1. klahanie: We have at least one football team known as the magpies as well. (I am not a follower so couldn't tell you which one). The sneeze probably wasn't that of a magpie, but having just learned they are very good mimics who can be sure...
      Have a great week.

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  25. Oh, EC, that's beautiful, kind of unworldly. What's left of our birds aren't very vocal, I'm afraid. But I don't think they've attacked anyone, either. Good with the bad, eh? ;)

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    1. Austan: It is lovely to hear at dawn and dusk. Many of our birds are quite vocal. Mostly though they are not pleasant vocalisations.

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  26. Those Waddles are beautiful, I love their happy yellow color.. I have not seen them before.
    Spring will bring even more beauty to your gardens.

    Have a wonderful week :)

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    1. Pam:): They are beautiful, and at the moment are blazing across town. Such a cheery sight. And yes, there is beauty bursting forth in the garden already...

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  27. I can't stand them. Magpies from around my house are extremely violent. They even attacked my cat, they fought a lot because my cat was protecting her kitties. She finally chased her away but they are a great danger to little animals, baby chicks or kittens.

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    1. unikorna: I am so sorry that the magpies in your part of the world are so vicious. Ours are not a danger to kittens or baby chicks.

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  28. No problems with our magpies. The only swooping they do is to come down and demand the morning tithes of minced meat.

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    1. J Cosmo Newbery: It fascinates me how different the tythe they extract is. Ours eat seed. The neighbour feeds hers bread, my father fed them bacon ....

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  29. Your spring means our autumn is approaching...

    Love the markings on your magpies.

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  30. Your magpies have lovely markings!

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    1. ladyfi: I do love the colours of your autumn (and your winter). And yes, I think our magpies are smart in their tuxedos.

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  31. I love your videos.

    It makes me feel as if I am there w/ you <3

    Lovely birds...is that their music I hear? xx

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    1. My Inner Chick: That is indeed their song - which I love.

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  32. Absolutely brilliant, I love that sound! Our Magpies don't have that musical quality at all unfortunately.

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  33. Wattle? Oh yes! Our neighbour has wattle flowering in her front garden and I can see it when I sit in our living room. Just lovely and my favourite colour too.
    Magpies? They do make a lovely warbling sound and there has been one bird in particular of late that really does sing. We always smile when we hear them on a very moonlight night. They obviously think it is daytime or they are just enjoying the bright moonlight.
    Thank you for sharing those lovely photos. xx

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    1. Mimsie: Thank you. The magpies at home sing the dawn and the dusk in, and may pop up at other times as well. And the warble always makes me smile.

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  34. Glad to know that spring is around the corner and once again the flowers will blossom and the colorful flowers will come out. How peculiar the physical appearance of the magpies are, right? They seem odd but very protective species to their young!

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    1. Farida: They are indeed (particularly the males) very protective parents. We also see them continuing to feed demanding chicks that are as big as they are.

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  35. I come from An English girl rambles - your blog name caught my eye. We have many magpies here, they are mean nasty birds. The most aggressive fellas round here are the seagulls now they can be aggressive. Hope you have time to pop over to my blog. :)

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    1. The cuby poet: Welcome. Our magpies are different to yours (fortunately). There seems to be a marked lack of originality in naming birds. Our magpies are different to yours which are different to american magpies which are different to ours. And judging by the comments, yours can be vicious so and sos.

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  36. What a beautiful sound. I'm not familiar with these types of birds, but the sound is amazing. Here in the states we have mourning doves, (not sure if they are there too) but that is my favorite sound of a bird... Just makes me feel at peace. Thanks for sharing. :)

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    1. Deb: Thank you. While we do have doves, we don't have your mourning doves. I will try and capture the cooing purr of some of ours.

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  37. Have you ever approached these birds in an eye-painted hat? I'd be tempted to run experiments on efficacy.

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    1. John Wiswell: I haven't tried the eyes on the hat trick. I have seen (and sniggered) a magpie dive bombing a cyclist with the plastic ties sticking up from his helment.

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  38. two magpies attacked some of my baby buffs a couple of years ago.... if I had not intervened I would have lost the lot

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    1. John Gray: As I said to the cuby poet it seems that your magpies are not nice natured birds at all.

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  39. ElephantsChild,

    Sorry for being slow to comment on this post, I was away in Montana for 8 days. Thanks for sharing the calls of the Magpies, I remember that sound so well from my time in Australia and they brought back very fond memories. Thank you so much.

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    1. Mia McPherson: You are welcome any time and are certainly under no obligation to visit and/or comment. I am looking forward to photographs from your Montana trip.

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  40. Your magpies are incredibly interesting, as are their calls which I'd never heard before I played your clip. And they must be more aggressive than ours. The Black-billed Magpie can be raucous and excited if you get close to a nest but I've never heard of them actually attacking people.

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    1. Ron Dudley: It is only the males which swoop, and only during nesting season. For the majority of the year magpies and people co-exist well.

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  41. Back again! Just signing up as a follower!

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  42. Hi there, EC! I finally made it over - I just LOVE those MagPies. Ever since first seeing - maybe Monet's painting of them in the snow? ANd their song is gorgeous. I followed you (finally) through my gmail/blogger acct., but not sure how that will work out. Anyway,i bet you are eager for spring to happen. We are just getting ready to snuggle in for fall next month :)

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    1. spectrumwoman: I am always happy to see you. Monet's painting would have been of the European magpies, but the song of ours is indeed just lovely. Spring I am always happy to see, but could equally happily give a miss to summer. Fall/autumn are beautiful seasons.

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  43. Hope all is well with you and SP.. an you both are happy and healthy.
    Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment, EC.

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    1. Pam:): Anytime. We are making slow progress - thank you.

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  44. magpies are so pretty! we have a lot of them in sweden, though i have never ever heard of them causing any harm like that (their appearcne is also slightly different when i look at your photos). often guests in my garden, and often barked at by little loaf. they also sit in gangs in trees here and there making loud noses as to scare off cats, foxes and warn other birds about the predators. it's quite entertaining (and annoying).

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