Surfing Magpie Lark

From time to time I read about strange, usual and downright funny behaviour exhibited by birds. A recent posting on the Birding-Aus forum related this rather bizarre behaviour:

I work at Monash University in the south eastern suburbs of Melbourne and have recently seen some bizarre behaviour from a Magpie-lark near work. After you get off the Monash freeway at Forster Road there are traffic lights as you wait to turn into Forster Road.

For the last 6-9 months there has been a Magpie-lark spending a lot of time at this intersection and it will continuously fly between the two cars at the front of the line (while they are stopped) pecking and attacking reflections in the windows, roof and mirrors. It only ever seems to attack the front cars in the line.

More interestingly recently it appears to have learnt to car surf; as the cars start and go around the corner it will stay on the roof for a while and then (purposefully?) slide down the windscreen of the car as it gets faster round the corner. As the car gets up to around 20-30 km/hr it will then open up its wings and fly/get blown over the top of the car and back to where it can attack the next set of cars. This behaviour appears to be all about having fun rather than attacking any possible reflected intruder.

My thanks to John for permission to use his comments.

Some time ago I ran a series of twenty birding bloopers. These relate to birders mis-identifying their sightings. They are well worth a read.

Magpie Lark

Magpie Lark

Click on the photo to enlarge the image.

More bird photos can be seen in my photo gallery.


10 Responses to “Surfing Magpie Lark”

  1. Veery says:

    That is one beautiful bird! Breathtaking, in fact.

  2. Sim' says:

    I’d love to see a video of that.

  3. Trevor says:

    Hi there Veery. You are correct when you say that it is a breathtaking bird – beautiful markings and a lovely compact bird. Their call is lovely too, especially when the male and female sing together.

  4. Trevor says:

    Hi Sim’ – I agree – a video would be great. I’ve corresponded with the person who alerted me to this individual and he said it has been doing it for several months so a video would be possible.

  5. Snail says:

    A magpie-lark with a sense of fun! I like it. They are otherwise so earnest when they’re trying to muscle out their reflections.

  6. Trevor says:

    There should be more birds with a sense of humour – that would liven up birding trips for sure.

  7. pam says:

    We have a magpie lark who repeats a circuit around a corner of our house for hours every day. It starts at a ledge near one window then swoops around the house past several more windows and ends up attacking the bathroom window then back to the star. It wakes me up at dawn everyday.

  8. […] (Magpie Larks) are near the top of my list. They are always mucking about in our gutters. What is more, they make […]

  9. Trevor says:

    Hi there Pam,

    It certainly appears to be a case of OCD.
    More seriously, this bird is concerned about its reflection in the glass being an interloper in its territory. It is chasing this “alien” away, not realising it’s a reflection of itself. The behaviour is often shown only during the nesting period.

    Many species exhibit this behaviour. We once had a Little Raven bang its beak VERY loudly on our bedroom window before dawn every morning for weeks several years ago. Far louder than any alarm clock I can tell you.

  10. Runar Bjaland says:

    I have a visiting magpie lark who is reluctant to share the lawn with me as I water the nearby vegetables. Not yet aggressive, but boldly walks within inches of my hosing position and glares amusingly. Does anyone know how symbiotic these birds are prepared to be with humans?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *