Week 1: The Australian Magpie (Gymnorhina tibicen spp.)
The Australian magpie is a native Aussie icon. Found almost all across the country, they are some of the most characteristic and curious birds you will ever come across.
The plumage of the Australian magpie is distinctly black and white, although its pattern can vary from region to region. Its large beak is also white, whilst its eyes are gracefully blood orange. Although sometimes commonly mistaken for the similarly patterned Magpie-lark (Grallina cyanoleuca) or Pied Butcherbird (Cracticus nigrogularis), the flute like call of the Australian magpie is unmistakable.
The Australian magpie is often found wandering individually, however this species of bird tends to live in groups (as many as 24 individuals!), working together to defend territory and provide for one another. Additionally, their preferred habitat is quite generalist, spreading across the vast majority of Australia, only staying absent from the densest of forests and arid of regions. They are often found in cities like Adelaide, either nesting in Eucalyptus trees adjacent to open areas like parks, or patrolling the ground for insects to feed on.
According to the IUCN Red List, the Australian magpie’s conservation status is currently of least concern. Although this species of bird is commonly found across much of Australia including the greater Adelaide region, less than a thousand observations have been made using the iNaturalist platform. This is an important note, as with many species of plants and animals, observations of these birds are invaluable towards their continued research, understanding and protection. Observations of the Australian magpie uploaded through the iNaturalist platform like all plant and animal species in Australia are now officially uploaded through the Atlas of Living Australia online repository, where scientists are able to use this invaluable data for research.
So next time you see a magpie going along its merry way, take a quick snap and upload it to iNaturalist. You never know just how useful your photo may be!