Re: Magpie diet, camoflage and song

Subject: Re: Magpie diet, camoflage and song
Date: Mon, 31 May 2004 14:11:33 +1000

Hi All,

Last week i was driving beside a coastal saltmarsh near a residential area, when a magpie swooped down from a nearby powerline with more intent and attack in its actions than i had ever seen before in a magpie.  Fascinated by what it was after, I stopped further up the road, and put my scope on the magpie.  It had pulled a small mouse from the saltmarsh, and took it to a grassy naturestrip to eat it, where it quickly finished it off.

Are mice a common food source for Magpies? I read that it was part of their diet, but i have never witnessed it before, and it seemed very unusual.

After looking at photos i took of the magpie, i noticed something very interesting. In one photo, the magpie is looking striaght down the barrell of the camera and it shows an amazing peice of natural illusion.  If you look at a Magpies beak it is mostly white/grey/blue, but has a black tip. When you look straight down a magpies bill, the white/grey/blue colouration makes the black tip appear flat-curved, short, raptor-like and set against its face - the white/grey appearing to be a circular face patch. If an insect. mouse or whatever had a magpie staring down at it, it would think that the birds bill is set against its face, and was thus a safe distance away from it. However, in reality, the long heavy bill and tip  would be much closer to its prey than it thinks and be able to peck at its prey without it getting away.  Amazing.

My third observation (question) about magpies, was prompted by a beautiful call i heard also last week. It made me ask the question "Does the black backed magpie have a different call to the white back magpie?"

Can anyone answer this?

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