Magpie mirror flight?

To: "b-a" <>
Subject: Magpie mirror flight?
From: "Syd Curtis" <>
Date: Sat, 16 Sep 2000 06:46:12 +1000

Advice please, birding-aus  - to reduce somewhat my ignorance.

Earlier this year, I watched two Australian magpies flying rapidly and somewhat erratically, the second one following every twist and turn of the first.  Now somewhere I've read that magpie parents eventually get tired of the constant begging of juveniles and with thoughts turning towards their next brood, they chase the juveniles out of the home territory.  

I assumed that this was what I was witnessing, and paused in my walk to watch the outcome.  To my surprise, they landed on the same power-line pole, quite amicably, and I noted that one was carrying a twig.  (Regrettably by the time I saw the twig, I couldn't say whether it was carried by the the leader or the follower.)

I know many species of terns perform mirror flights as part of their courtship, but I had not associated such behaviour with Australian magpies.  Is this a common magpie behaviour that somehow I've never noticed?


Syd Curtis at Hawthorne in Brisbane, Queensland.

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