|Australian Magpie Gymnorhina tibicen
February / March 2006
The Australian Magpie is distributed throughout most of Australia, including Tasmania, except the very arid interior and the extreme north. They are also found in New Guinea.
|It is a social bird living in smallish groups and feeds on the ground where it preys on invertebrates.
It is a bird of open woodland and requires trees for nesting. Schodde & Mason mention that before settlement the species occurred in islands of open woodland "within a sea of denser forest across the continent." This has led to a high degree of regional differentiation and intergradation as the species has spread in line with the disappearance of the forest.
|There are 9 sub-species only one of which is not found in Australia. I have tried to identify these photos by sub-species but some may represent intergradations between sub-species.
Photos 1 (male) and 2 (female) are of the sub-species G. t. tyrannica. The back is uniformly white in males and clouded milky-white in females. The female also has a broadened whitish collar. The sub-species is further distinguished by the very broad black terminal band on the tail.
|I think that photo 3 is also a male tyrannica though the black terminal band on the tail does not look so broad. This photo was taken at Wyperfield, Victoria as was photo 4 which shows a totally different plumage most notably the black rather than whitish back. I am assuming that this bird is of the race terraereginae and that the milky-grey collar suggests that it is a female. Wyperfield is in the zone of intergradation between these two sub-species.|
|Photo 5 was taken at Port Elliot in South Australia and I believe shows a female of the sub-species telonocua. This race has a white back in the male while in the female the back is a dull mid-grey with white edging and the whitish collar is narrower. The terminal black band on the tail is medium sized.|
|Photo 6 was taken at Wilpena Pound in the Flinders Range of South Australia and I believe this shows a male terraereginae with the white collar hardly extending onto the mantle and a narrow black terminal band on the tail.|
|Photos 6 and 7 were taken in Tasmania and so are of the sub-species G. t. hypoleuca. The mottling on the underparts and darker bill indicate that this is an immature.|