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Wildside Sanctuary - Eco Couples Retreat - Hawkesbury - Blue Mountains

Magpies – Voted #1 Australia’s Favourite Animal Sound

Magpies are found right across Australia, and they are one of the many species that actually benefit from human impacts on their landscape. Our urban environment is perfect for them, with our gardens and parks covered by lawn, bordered by trees. Their natural diet is the worms, bugs and insects that live in those lawns. By mowing, watering and fertilizing those grasslands we are ensuring they have a plentiful supply of food all year round. We all know that birds have great eyesight, but magpies can actually hear the worms and insects moving through the soil.

Their social lives have more twists and turns than a week on Neighbours! They basically mate for life and both parents are equally involved in rearing the hatchlings in the nest. However, unlike other animals, if one of the parents dies, they re-partner incredibly quickly – within hours – and the new parent takes on the role of rearing the young, even though they are not their biological offspring. In other species, for example African lions, a new dad will kill the offspring of the previous dad and start again with a litter of his own progeny. Once the magpie offspring reach adolescence, some will stay with the parents and help them rear the next generation, effectively becoming an extended family. Teenage magpies spend a long time being looked after by mum and dad before they finally decide to leave home. They are territorial throughout the year, and much of their daily activity is spent defending their patch from other magpies.

Many of us have experienced swooping by magpies as we unknowingly trespass through their domain. Swooping is only performed by males, and less than 10% actually display this threatening behavior. It is their way of protecting their precious nestlings from the threat of predation or attack. However there have been many reports of injuries sustained from these interactions – falling off bikes, scratches, even loss of an eye. The usual way to manage the problem is for appropriately trained bird experts to catch the offending male, remove him to a far distant location, and amazingly, the female will quickly re-partner with a new male, who statistically, is unlikely to be a swooper and will assist her to rear that batch of nestlings.

Studies have shown, that in an urban environment, magpies will be able to identify every human that lives in their territory, even though most of us will have no direct interaction with them.  Experiments with masks have proven that they can identify human faces. Not surprisingly, the faces they identify with most are the people that feed them. If you are going to feed them please do so responsibly. Minced meat is not good as it doesn’t have any calcium or phosphorous for their bones. Bread is a highly processed food and is not suitable. Small amounts of dry cat food or meal worms are ok as they provide a nutritionally balanced treat.

When you stay at Wildside Sanctuary it is highly likely that you will meet our resident magpies, including Broomhilda, our loveable angry bird! She’s very used to people and will eat from our hands. Apart from magpies, our gardens are a happy home to satin Bower birds, king parrots, endangered Gang-Gang cockatoos, yellow tailed black cockatoos and many more. It is a bird watchers paradise. To book your stay visit

Their famous songs are some of the most complicated in the animal kingdom, and their vocal range extends over 4 octaves. We don’t really know what each of their songs means, but it is likely to be associated with establishing their territory, letting others know that they are around, and finding a mate. Learn more about magpies and hear their calls >>