Magpie nest

Subject: Magpie nest
From: Ian Fraser <>
Date: Sun, 09 Aug 2009 12:33:40 +1000
Hi David. I can't say if the construction below ever produced magpie young - someone rang me a couple of years back and asked if I was interested in collecting it, after it had blown down. There is very little natural material in it; probably at least 10 coat hangers (they're totally entangled and not easy to distinguish one from the next), plus random bits of wire, a bit of plastic garden fencing, various coloured bits of electrical wire, a plastic hair clip and a bicycle brake cable, inter alia. Its current weight is 1.5kg, but it's lost bits over time - I gather that the donor's dog had a bit of a go at it too! With respect, your maggie has some apprenticeship to do yet....



David Rosalky wrote:
Breeding season in my GBS precinct in Deakin has been best displayed by a busy female magpie who has been building a nest for the past two weeks.  When I first observed it, I was surprised at the position - a fairly flat and exposed bough of a eucalypt rather than in a fork.  The nest developed with many observed visits of the female carrying sticks and the male perched in sentry position nearby (especially late in the building period).  First there was just a thin skeletal bowl shape and then, progressively, a substantial bowl which looked to me noticably larger than magpie nests usually are.
Yesterday morning (Friday), the bird was busy in the nest and seemed to be adjusting sticks.  By lunchtime, with the wind howling, my wife and I passed again and saw that the nest was no longer in the tree but lying fairly intact on the ground.  The surprise was that the nest contained no fewer than three wire coat hangers, substantial pieces of plastic webbing and other man-made flotsam and jetsam.  This probably explains the large size.  How she got these heavy elements into the nest is a mystery - I did not see her carrying anything but sticks in my casual observations.  It would have been quite a sight to see!
My conclusion is that the bird was probably an inexperienced nest builder and that she will have to improve her choice of site and materials.  Perhaps the male may have to improve his choice of mate if he wants to increase his chances of breeding successfully.
The attached photo shows the hangers fairly clearly and gives an idea of size relative to my foot.
Any comments or similar observations?
David Rosalky


Ian Fraser, m("","ianf");">
Environment Tours; Vertego Environmental Consultancy
GPO Box 3268, Canberra, ACT 2601
ph: 61 2 6249 1560  

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