Saturday Evening Post #194: The Amazing Magpie

Just prior to covid restrictions, you know, BC (before covid) I had just started an “Amazing Magpies” project. I had opened up a webpage on SmugMug and was beginning to develop some acceptance by several Magpie pairs in our area. I was hoping to be able to follow them through the nesting and fledging of their crop for the season.
Alas
Living in Melbourne with the longest lockdown of any city in the world, I think some of the Maggies past on by the time we were out and about again. So I saved myself some money and closed the SmugMug page.

Mentioned last blog that we’d been out and had spent some time with a number of Magpie pairs on the day. Interesting to see that now that the nesting season in approaching how the pairs are beginning to take notice of oneanother.

Unlike many other birds, Magpies don’t seem to have courtship rituals. No long dance routines, or fly displays. They just seem to know who the right mate is, and stay together.
And that’s what we’ve been seeing.

They seem to have begun to take much more notice of each other. Walking and hunting close to one-another, attentive little games. One pair we found today were playing some sort of hide-and-seek game around a bush. Running behind the bush so as not to be seen, but then, sticking a head out to be sure to be found. Frolicking at the ‘discovery’. Now I’m sure I’m anthropomorphising the activities but how else do you explain it.

One pair already has a nest site chosen, and the discussions are down to the furniture going in, and who does what in the construction. But mostly they sit on a fence together and scan the territory to be sure no one has dared to put a wing-flap over the boundary. If it should happen both are off at great speed and much wing noise as they rush to encourage the competition to move along.

So I thought about re-establishing the project. But in the end wondered if there was a Flickr group for Australian Magpies. After all there is a Flickr group for just about everything else. Including groups for Facebook and Instagram. 🙂 No Joke. Go figure.

But no. No group for Aussie Maggies. So. I’ve started one.
I guess I’ll be posting a few more Maggie pics to Flickr over the next few months, to keep the group up todate.

For those not on Flickr here is the link to the Group.

You can click through the images in the group in this slide show

Mother And Daughter

Thanks Eleanor for quickly adding some images

14 thoughts on “Saturday Evening Post #194: The Amazing Magpie

  1. It’s a pleasure! I look forward to seeing more of yours, and shall keep an eye open for our local Magpie family. Their HQ is a big eucalypt further down our street.

    I did like your description of the game of hide and seek – lovely!

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  2. G’day David. It’s a great idea to have this group on Flickr. The Australian Magpies are extraordinary birds and they deserve to be honoured. I’ll definitely contribute and enjoy the captures by you, Eleanor and all Magpie-friendly photographers. The games birds play don’t surprise me anymore but I’m yet to observe therse particular Magpies antics. Thanks for sharing!

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  3. Yes David it was sad that the Magpie project was put on hold, along with so many other things. The magpie, from what I have read and observed is probably more like us humans than any other bird. Not just because of its intelligence and brain size ratio, but because of its behaviour in both community and also in small family groups, which well represent the ‘aussie battler’ which is what our state was built on from the ex convict.marrying ex convict. Loved your Flickr photies and the thought to renew interest in this most interesting bird. I love my local battlers who come to my birdbaths. The alpha male allows me to walk past him as he pauses and waits for me to walk past and continues to wash and drink. He and his partner will come together and sing for me during and after their cleaning ritual. Have a great week and stay warm. We are getting pelted again for several days of driving horizontal rain and wind, even worse than last time, with flooding downstairs, in many houses. It just roars, as I write this.

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    1. Hello Ashley, I think Gisela Kaplan’s book has so much to say on their behaviour and interaction. Because they are big bird, with a definable territory and are not fazzed by human interaction they are such a pleasure to study.
      Sorry hear of the weather, while we’ve not had torrential, it has been a miserable 3-4 weeks and I’m surprised the State has not suffered more damage.

      Can’t recall a winter like that since we moved 9 years ago.

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  4. Maggies are fascinating to observe and photograph! I love your header image of the pair carolling!
    We seem to have a few more in the neighbourhood this year and they are definitely competing for nesting sites with the Wattlebirds and New Hollands. Interestingly they seem to be standing up to the Indian (Common) Mynas and the number of Mynas has reduced. I will keep an eye out and contribute to the group!

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  5. Our Mynas are alive and well, and seem to be rapidly becoming the local dominate species. Sadly Maggies don’t see our village as an attractive option. Perhaps they aren’t ready to retire 🙂
    Good numbers however along the River and Davis Creek.

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  6. Hello, David. I am not sure whether I have commented on your page before but magpies will be encourage me every time. I am not on Flickr but hopefully I will still be able to see some of your images. I sometimes wonder whether I take too many photos of magpies but, of course, you can never have enough photos of magpies. Round about this time every year, I commence my magpie training, that is, going on as many walks as I can to make the acquaintance of as many magpies that I can. It is my insurance policy against swooping although it doesn’t always work.

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    1. Hello.
      They do hold a unique attraction for photography.
      Not always easy to get their confidence we have a local pair and I’ve never been able to get by with out being swooped in season. Yet I can talk with them in the quieter months and they seem calm enough

      Good luck with your Maggie photos

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Beautiful shots you took, especially the ones in flight. I saw my first magpie this year over here, they look a little bit different, but I was surprised at the size of them. I never did get a good shot of one, they would always take off the minute they saw me before I saw them. Beautiful birds.

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  8. Have any of you “maggies” watchers got the idea that in a breeding season when the weather is not such a toil for the magpies, then they are much less likely to dive bomb us unsuspecting passers-by. Let me know if you have noticed any changes this season.

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  9. Hello Hugh
    Interesting question. I don’t know of any research to indicate weather is a factor in swooping. I believe the average of swooping Maggies is around one in ten.
    Lots of theories and anecdotal evidence about the reasons.
    I’ve seen a cyclist bombed and in a few minutes later a family cycling by were allowed to pass unhindered.

    I regularly walk around our local area that supports at least 15 pairs. Only one male has ever been aggressive and we had a chat and I’ve never been challenged again
    They have facial recognition and long term memories so someone on the hit list does have a problem.
    Have you seen the any changes because of the wet weather?

    Keep duckin’

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