A few days ago I wrote about the small group of White-winged Choughs I watched in the Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra. While I was watching them digging around for food and them being most obliging to pose for my camera, the magpie in the photo above came swooping down from a nearby tree and clacked his beak. Not at me – but at the choughs. Seems that they have a little rivalry going on there. Perhaps the magpie was protecting his little patch of the gardens and didn’t want any other birds taking his food supply.
I’ve noticed a similar thing at home here in Murray Bridge, South Australia. Some of the magpies, especially the males, can be very aggressive towards other species. The will fly straight at them, almost hitting them with their wings and giving loud clacking beak noises.
Another thing IÂ noticed about the magpie shown in the photo is that it looks very much like the White-backed race of Australian Magpie. Most of New South Wales has the Black-backed race except the south coast from Bateman’s Bay on towards Victoria. The distribution of the White-backed Magpies might be even broader than this as my observations in this area are quite limited.
I’d be interested in readers’ comments.
Australian Magpies are widespread throughout the both rural and urban areas. The magpie is one of our most recognised bird species. What many people don’t realise is that there are several distinct sub-species of the Australian Magpie. These were once recognised as distinct species, but more recently have been lumped together as one species. I discuss this issue here. In essence, they are now recognised as one species because they interbreed in the wild. The three races were Black-backed, White-backed and Western Magpies.
While in Sydney recently I managed to get several good photos of the Black-backed race of Magpies. One of these is shown above. The bird on the right is being fed by the adult on the left. The photo was taken in Lane Cove National Park, Sydney.