Yes they can be belligerent. Some individuals will attack people when
nesting. I think we all would have noted that they often display aggression
towards Australian Magpies (which ignore them). I suspect (obviously I can't
know) that they are reacting to a black & white bird that they see as a
bigger version of themself and thus a threat (not too different from them
attacking mirrors). I think that tells us something more about their
aggression as this is clearly a deeply ingrained behaviour.
The idea of demanding food could be relevant. Some will accept hand feeding.
It might just be a learned addition to the aggression. As it is hard to
think why they would otherwise start the behaviour. There aren't many other
animals that will give food to an unrelated animal, simply because it
squeals at them. I suspect it is the people that respond that way (feeding
them) that sets up the learned pattern (if that is what is happening). Then
again there are vast numbers of animals that easily learn that people will
give them food, so it can't be that difficult.
From: Birding-Aus On Behalf Of
Sent: Saturday, 11 March, 2017 8:02 AM
Subject: Magpie-lark demanding food
It's not a good idea to start feeding Magpie-larks.
Some years ago there was a tame pair of Magpie-larks frequenting the
shopping centre mall at Noosa Heads in Qld and there were instances of them
attacking people in the face, or the eyes.
I too have had a "tame" bird that we used to feed at home at Beerwah, fly at
The theory is that they are actually attacking their reflections in your
eyes. Just a theory, but certainly possible.
Magpie-larks are certainly well-known for attacking their reflections in
windows, glass doors etc.
Recently I witnessed a male bird at Mt Ive in S.A. that spent much of his
day attacking his reflection in a chromiun plated section of machinery,
until I turned it round so he couldn't see it.
Interestingly I saw this sort of behaviour yesterday but assumed that I was
in the way, rather than that it expected to be fed i.e. it had its eye on
something close to the seat I was sitting on and wanted me to go so that it
could get it. Your assumption is probably just as likely though!
On 9 March 2017 at 17:23, Peter Shute <> wrote:
> On the way home tonight, I crossed a small park in Melbourne and
> watched a Magpie-lark standing on the ground about a metre from a
> couple sitting on a seat, calling loudly right at them. It wandered
> aimlessly for a few seconds, then stood facing them and gave them another
> Lots of people would eat lunch in that park, so I assume it might have
> learned that this earns it a bit of the victim's lunch.
> Has anyone else seen this behaviour?
> Peter Shute<HR>
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