Family: Artamidae (Woodswallows, Butcherbirds, Currawongs, 15 species in Australia)
Size: 36-44 cm
Distribution: All of Australia except parts of western inland Australia and northern Australia
Status: Locally Abundant to Common
Habitat: Open forest, farms, urban land.
References: Simpson and Day, Reader's Digest, Wikipedia
The Australian Magpie is one of the most famous Australian birds. It is commonly seen in grassy open areas such as parks and sporting fields. It has a red eye. It is a distinctive looking bird and easy to identify, though occasionally currawongs are mistaken for magpies.
Around the breeding season (late August to early October) some magpies will attack humans that pass close to the nest, swooping down low and sometimes pecking the back of the head of the person. The attacker is almost always (99% of the time) the male bird. Holding a stick above your head is a good deterrent.Unlike the spurwing plover though, a magpie will usually attack from behind, and only an unusually agressive magpie will attack when you are looking right at it. There have been reports of magpies landing in front of someone and lurching up to land on their chest while pecking at their face and eyes, but I have never seen this happen.
Photo: Watsons Bay NSW. Higher Resolution (1221 x 915).
Photo: Watsons Bay NSW. Higher Resolution (1158 x 1047).
Artwork: John Gould, 'The Birds of Australia', 1848. Original Scanned Image.
Some Birdwatching Resources
NEW: Birds of Australia: A Photographic Guide, by Iain Campbell, Sam Woods, Nick Leseberg, Geoff Jones (Photographer).
I bought this field guide recently (June 2020). As the name suggests, it's got photographs rather than line drawings. They are very high quality, clear photos. I've got so many field guides now, they have to be really good before I buy them (I got it from a physical book shop, so I was able to look through it thoroughly before deciding whether or not to get it).
From the publisher:
Australia is home to a spectacular diversity of birdlife, from parrots and penguins to emus and vibrant passerines. Birds of Australia covers all 714 species of resident birds and regularly occurring migrants and features more than 1,100 stunning color photographs, including many photos of subspecies and plumage variations never before seen in a field guide. Detailed facing-page species accounts describe key identification features such as size, plumage, distribution, behavior, and voice. This one-of-a-kind guide also provides extensive habitat descriptions with a large number of accompanying photos. The text relies on the very latest IOC taxonomy and the distribution maps incorporate the most current mapping data, making this the most up-to-date guide to Australian birds.
- Covers all 714 species of resident birds and regularly occurring migrants
Features more than 1,100 stunning color photos
Includes facing-page species accounts, habitat descriptions, and distribution maps
The ideal photographic guide for beginners and seasoned birders alike
NOTE: This is the only field guide for Australian birds that I've seen which lists the size of each bird in both centimetres and inches. So if you're much more familiar with inches than centimetres, this would be the best Australian bird field guide to get just for that reason.
Purchase from Australia (Booktopia)
Purchase from Australia (Angus & Robertson)
Purchase from Australia (The Nile)
Purchase from Australia (Fishpond)
Purchase from Amazon.com (USA Site)
Purchase from Amazon.com.au (Australian Site)
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