General Description

Body black and white. Male: top of head, wings, face, underparts and tail tip black; wing-bar and rest of upperparts white. Female: like male, but duller and back mottled grey. Bill to tail length is up to 45 cm. Call a complex, musical, flute-like song.


Magpies are well known for their carolling calls at dawn and dusk. Their musical, flute-like songs, is one of the most complex bird songs in the world. Males defend their territory, especially during the breeding season where they will swoop at animals and humans who come too close to their nests. They can live in territorial groups of up to 24 birds, staying in the same place for many years. Magpies will walk along the ground searching for food by overturning debris or probing their bills into the dirt. They eat insects, larvae and other invertebrates. Magpies are known to remove the stingers of wasps and bees before eating them.


New Guinea. Mainland Australia and Tasmania. Introduced to New Zealand.


Most habitats except dense forests and arid deserts.

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