Australian Magpie Facts for Kids

The Australian magpie, also known as Gymnorhina tibicen, is a delightful bird that is closely related to the Black butcherbird, yet entirely distinct from the European magpie, which belongs to the corvid family.

Admired as one of Australia’s most talented songbirds, this avian species has an impressive repertoire of complex vocalizations that fascinate birdwatchers and enthusiasts from around the world.

One of the most remarkable traits of the Australian magpie is its uncanny ability to adapt to human habitation. These birds can be found in parks, gardens, and farmland across Australia and New Guinea, where they have become a familiar sight and a beloved companion to many households.

However, in the spring (and sometimes in the autumn), a fraction of breeding magpies (usually males) may become aggressive and attack individuals who venture too close to their nests.

Research has revealed that magpies have a remarkable cognitive ability to recognize at least 100 different people, suggesting that they possess a superior level of social intelligence.

In fact, these birds may be less likely to swoop and attack individuals they have befriended, demonstrating their capacity for nuanced and complex relationships with humans. As a result, the Australian magpie is a fascinating and beloved species that is cherished and admired by bird enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

Australian Magpie Facts for Kids

  • Magpies live in Australia & New Zealand.
  • They’re black and white birds.
  • Magpies have a beautiful song.
  • They eat insects, worms, and seeds.
  • Magpies can mimic other sounds.
  • They live in social family groups.
  • Magpies defend their nests bravely.
Key Statistic Value
Size 14-17 inches
Weight 6.5-14 ounces
Lifespan 25 years (in wild)
Habitat Woodlands, grasslands
Diet Omnivore
Breeding Season August-October
Clutch Size 3-5 eggs


Amidst the bustling wildlife of Australia, there is a charming medium-sized songbird known as the Australian Magpie.

Its striking black and white plumage, gold-brown eyes, and solid wedge-shaped bluish-white and black bill make it quite the sight to behold. And while both male and female birds are similar in appearance, there are slight differences in their back markings.

Male birds display pure white feathers on the back of their heads, whereas females exhibit white feathers that gradually blend into grey.

With its long legs, the Australian Magpie has an elegant walk that sets it apart from other birds who waddle or hop. Despite its majestic appearance, the Australian Magpie doesn’t spend all its time perched high up in trees. In fact, this bird is quite the ground dweller and can often be seen strutting about on the grass.

As a species, the Australian Magpie is a testament to the beauty and diversity of the natural world. Its unique traits and behaviors are a fascinating reminder of the importance of preserving and protecting our planet’s delicate ecosystems. So the next time you see an Australian Magpie, take a moment to appreciate the wonder and magic of the natural world.


The delightful and ubiquitous Australian magpie can be found across the expansive continent of Australia, as well as southern New Guinea and Indonesia.

These charming birds tend to gravitate towards open areas, such as grasslands, savannahs, and fields, as well as residential areas with scattered trees or forests nearby. However, they are also known to make themselves at home in mature pine plantations, rainforests, and wet sclerophyll forests.

Their happy existence in both natural and man-made habitats can be attributed to their adaptable nature and willingness to coexist harmoniously with humans.

You may spot them along the streets or parks, adding a cheerful soundtrack to your daily routine. Their beautiful songs and intricate melodies have inspired many a poet and artists and they continue to be a beloved symbol of Australian wildlife.

It is with great joy that we observe these magnificent creatures go about their daily lives, reminding us of the magic and beauty that surrounds us. Their presence is a testament to the wonders of nature and the importance of preserving it for generations to come.

Habits and Lifestyle

The Australian magpie, a diurnal bird, is known for its complex variety of calls, which range from a quiet warbling when alone to loud musical caroling with a partner or group. These birds can also be heard calling at night, adding to their mystique.

With their short femur and long lower leg, magpies are well-suited for walking on the ground, but can also run in short bursts when hunting prey.

Magpies tend to be sedentary and territorial, and they live in groups that occupy a given territory, either in flocks or fringe groups.

They defend their territory fiercely and use various displays to warn off intruders. The group may occupy and defend the same territory for many years, indicating a strong attachment to their homes.

When threatened by a predator, such as a raptor, sentinel magpies will call for help and mob the intruder, placing themselves on either side of the predator so that it will be attacked from behind should it strike a defender.

Fledgling and juvenile magpies produce a unique high-pitched call to request food or attention.

Magpies are also known to indulge in beak-clapping to warn other bird species of potential danger. They employ several high-pitched alarms or rallying calls when intruders or threats are spotted, indicating their advanced communication skills.

Despite their fierce territoriality and offensive tactics towards predators, magpies are also known for their intelligence and ability to form strong bonds with humans who provide them with food and shelter.

In summary, the Australian magpie is a fascinating and complex bird with a wide variety of calls and a highly territorial nature. They are fiercely loyal to their homes and will do anything to defend themselves against intruders, including using advanced communication skills and physical displays.

But, their intelligence and ability to form bonds with humans make them a unique and treasured part of Australian wildlife.

Diet and Nutrition

Australian magpies have an impressive palate, indulging in a diverse array of delicacies. Their menu includes earthy invertebrates like earthworms, millipedes, snails, spiders, and scorpions.

The magpies’ hearty consumption doesn’t end there; they also feast on a smorgasbord of insects, such as cockroaches, ants, beetles, cicadas, moths, and caterpillars, along with other delightful larvae.

These omnivores also take delight in skinks, frogs, and small animals, all while still managing to enjoy tasty treats like grain, tubers, figs, and walnuts.

With such a broad range of culinary preferences, it’s easy to see why the Australian magpie is an adaptable and successful bird species.

Mating Habits

The Australian magpie is a fascinating bird with a unique breeding season that varies depending on the region they inhabit.From June to January, these birds build a bowl-shaped nest made of sticks, grass, and bark, placed high up in a tree fork. Females exclusively build the nest while the male feeds his partner. The female lays between 2 to 5 oval light blue or greenish eggs that hatch 20 days after incubation begins.

The chicks are born blind and naked, with large feet and a bright red throat. As they begin to develop, they are fed by the female and sometimes assisted by other birds in the cooperative breeding process.

The chicks begin to forage on their own after 3 weeks of leaving the nest and mostly feed themselves by 6 months of age. They reach adult size by their first year and disperse from their family group at various ages, ranging from 8 months to four years old.

The Australian magpie is a prime example of nature’s delicate balance and the wonders of the avian world. Their monogamous pair bonds, cooperative breeding, and unique nesting habits are a remarkable display of nature’s diversity.

These fascinating birds are truly a sight to behold, and their life cycle serves as a testament to the intricacy and complexity of the natural world.

Population threats

Magpies are quite common, but that doesn’t mean they don’t face challenges. Unfortunately, they too often fall victim to the dangers of modern life, such as getting hit by moving vehicles and electrocuted by powerlines.

In addition, they sometimes become ill after consuming bait that was intended for other pests. Worst of all, their nests are sometimes pillaged by ravens seeking to feed their own young.

Despite these trials, magpies are resilient and continue to thrive in their habitats, reminding us of the beautiful and complex nature of the world around us.

Population number

The population size of the Australian magpie is a mystery. The IUCN Red List, along with other sources, has not provided a precise number, but what is known is that their numbers are on the rise.

This beautiful species is classified as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List which is a great relief. In recent years, their numbers have been increasing, and this is a testament to the efforts of conservationists worldwide.

The Australian magpie is a beautiful bird that deserves all the protection we can give.