Magpie (Cracticus tibicen)
Species: C. tibicen
Binomial name: Cracticus tibicen
Common name: Australian Magpie
The Australian Magpie (Cracticus tibicen) is a medium-sized black and white passerine bird native to Australia and southern New Guinea. They were were introduced in the 1860s and 1870s in Canterbury, Otago, Auckland (Kawau Island), Hawke’s Bay and Wellington to control pasture pests, which is why they were protected until 1951. Now they are proving to be a pest by displacing native birds particularly tui and kereru. Magpies sometimes raid native birds nests for eggs and nestlings. They also mob or attack other birds – harriers in particular – and often kill smaller bird species in acts of territorial defence.
The Magpie is omnivorous, with the bulk of its varied diet made up of invertebrates. It is generally sedentary and territorial throughout its range. Common and widespread, it has adapted well to human habitation and is a familiar bird of parks, gardens and farmland in New Zealand.
Occasionally magpies attack and injure humans and other animals that come within range of their nests during the breeding season. Their nests, which they usually build in tall exotic trees, are often made of a mixture of natural and man-made fibres, such as fencing wire, pieces of string and broken china. They lay three to four eggs, but only one or two chicks are reared. Eggs are usually bluish-green with olive blotches.
Listen to the call of the magpie
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