Magpies asked and answered

To: Canberra Birds <>
Subject: Magpies asked and answered
From: Alberta Hayes <>
Date: Wed, 27 Jan 2010 15:55:58 +1100
Hi again,
Thanks to everyone for the quick responses.  The consensus is that magpies live for 5-10 years.  The longest living recorded magpie was 23 years, 9 months in Gungahlin.
I'm posting what Steve Holliday sent to me too, as it may interest other chatliners.
As Mark has said, and Damien Farine posted privately, the ABBBS website is fantastic.

Thanks again everyone!

Hi Alberta


Good question, I didn’t know the answer either. According to the Big Book (ie HANZAB) the record is a female banded as an adult at Gungahlin which was recaptured at the same place 23 years and 9 months later! As it takes them a while to get adult plumage it was probably over 25 years old. I was amazed. The book also mentions another bird banded at a nestling, also at Gungahlin, that was still there 17 years later.



Another book ‘Magpie alert’ by Darryl Jones doesn’t mention these records and records the maximum age for a wild bird as 13, with 8-10 being quite old for an ordinary adult. Captive birds up to 15 years. Not sure why he doesn’t mention the HANZAB records. Your original guess of 10 years agrees with the Jones book.


In summary I guess anything over 10 is probably the exception but it is quite intriguing when data sources contradict each other like this!





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