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


Finding Australian Birds A Field Guide to Birding Locations, by Tim Dolby and Rohan Clarke NEW: Finding Australian Birds A Field Guide to Birding Locations, by Tim Dolby and Rohan Clarke. From the eastern rainforests to central deserts, Australia is home to some 900 species of birds. This book covers over 400 Australian bird watching sites conveniently grouped into the best birding areas, from one end of the country to the other. This includes areas such as Kakadu in the Top End and rocky gorges in the central deserts of the Northern Territory, the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, rainforests distributed along the eastern Australian seaboard, some of the world's tallest forests in Tasmania, the Flinders Ranges and deserts along the iconic Strzelecki and Birdsville Tracks in South Australia, and the Mallee temperate woodlands and spectacular coastlines in both Victoria and south west Western Australia.

Purchase from Australia (Booktopia)


Field Guide to Australian Birds, by Michael Morcombe NEW: Field Guide to Australian Birds, by Michael Morcombe. This one has colour drawings of the eggs and the nests which not many other field guides do (I can't think of any that do). It's an excellent field guide and one of the four main ones (the other three being above this one). The weakness of this field guide is that some of the pictures of the birds aren't as good (or accurate) as the other three most used field guides. It's also the heaviest though there is a pocket edition which is much smaller and lighter.

Purchase from Australia (Booktopia)

Purchase from Australia (Angus & Robertson)

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Australian Magpie - Gymnorhina tibicen

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