Animal Wisdom: Connecting People and Animals

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Although, they share a common name, the Australian magpie is NOT a relative of the magpie of the Crow Family. The Australian magpie (Gymnorhina tibicen) is a relative of the currawong. Found only in Australia, this bird is among one of the most common of local birds there. The Australian magpie tends to live in one place in a large group.

The Australian magpie has a complex social structure. He lives either in a tribe of about two to ten birds or in a flock of many birds. The difference between the two is that a tribe has a breeding territory. Members of his tribe defend their territory from all other magpies. Australian magpies who are members of flocks are usually birds who were unable to join a tribe. These birds do not breed until they join a tribe. When an Australian magpie is about two years old, He is forced out of the territory of his birth tribe and must look for another tribe to join. The only way that an Australian magpie can join a tribe is when another bird leaves.

Australian magpies forage by walking over open land, probing the soft parts of the ground, turning over stones, and other hiding places for Insects. Not particular in what He eats, the Australian magpie is quite versatile in eating whatever He finds. He and his tribe will exploit every part of their breeding territory for food. They will search for scarab beetles, a major garden pest.

A well-known “backyard bird,” the Australian magpie carols to announce his presence. This bird has one of the most complex songs in the bird world. He performs his flute-like melodies in groups (known as caroling). An intelligent bird, the Australian magpie can mimic other bird calls and human speech. He will include both in his songs.

What makes the Australian magpie dangerous is when He believes that a person is a threat to his nest. During the breeding season (August to October), Father Magpie will defend his young. He will attack by swooping down on intruders and pecking their heads. This bird is so aggressive in defending his nest that the local governments in Australia issue magpie warnings for people to wear a helmet, carry an open umbrella, or avoid the nesting area. Since the Australian magpie is protected in parts of Australia, the best defense is to avoid Him completely.

The Australian magpie teaches how to defend your home through offensive action. You watch and then attack before the home invader can come for you. But do not go so overboard in your defense that you become a menace to the neighborhood. Remember that the Australian magpie first announces his presence with his song. Music will calm troubled waters.

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Virginia Carper, a Roman Polytheist, lives in the Washington D.C. area with her family. She navigates life with a traumatic brain injury which gives her a different view on life. An avid naturalist since childhood, she has a blog called “Nature’s Observations.” Having experienced the animals directly, she teaches on-line classes about the spiritual and natural aspect of animals. She has published articles on her brain injury, Roman polytheism, and working with extinct animals. In addition her writings on animals (including dragons and other mythic creatures) can be purchased her book site, Animal Teachers.  


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