Australian Magpie - Gymnorhina tibicen

Australian Magpie

Gymnorhina tibicen

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.

Australian Magpie - Gymnorhina tibicen
Photo: Watsons Bay NSW. Higher Resolution (1221 x 915).

Australian Magpie - Gymnorhina tibicen
Photo: Watsons Bay NSW. Higher Resolution (1158 x 1047).

Australian Magpie - Gymnorhina tibicen
Artwork: John Gould, 'The Birds of Australia', 1848. Original Scanned Image.

Some Birdwatching Resources


Slater Field Guide to Australian Birds, Peter Slater, Pat Slater and Raoul Slater Slater Field Guide to Australian Birds, Peter Slater, Pat Slater and Raoul Slater. This is a smaller field guide, and its advantage is it is easy to carry around. Its size is 21.3 x 11.4 x 2.8 centimetres, or 8.4 x 4.5 x 1.1 inches in the old scale. So it is a good one to get if you want to have your field guide with you out in the field. Unlike most of the field guides it also has illustrations of the eggs of all the birds that breed in Australia. It has very good reviews on Amazon.

Click here to Purchase from Australia (Booktopia)

Purchase from Australia (Angus & Robertson)

Click here to purchase from Australia (The Nile) $28.45 AUD (May be unavailable)

Click here to purchase from Australia (Fishpond) May be expensive.

Click here to purchase from Amazon


Birdsong, Don Stap Birdsong, Don Stap. From the promotional material: "Following one of the world's experts on birdsong from the woods of Martha's Vineyard to the tropical forests of Central America, Don Stap brings to life the quest to unravel an ancient mystery: Why do birds sing and what do their songs mean? We quickly discover that one question leads to another. Why does the chestnut-sided warbler sing one song before dawn and another after sunrise? Why does the brown thrasher have a repertoire of two thousand songs when the chipping sparrow has only one? And how is the hermit thrush able to sing a duet with itself, producing two sounds simultaneously to create its beautiful, flutelike melody?"

Purchase from Australia (Booktopia)

Click here to purchase from Australia (Fishpond)

Click here to purchase from Wilderness Awareness School $24.00 USD (May not work)

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Australian Magpie - Gymnorhina tibicen

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