Magpie behaviour

To: "" <>
Subject: Magpie behaviour
From: Philip Veerman <>
Date: Tue, 20 Aug 2019 13:35:18 +0000

Another book is the one ‘Magpie alert: learning to live with a wild neighbour (Darryl Jones)’,. Although that is mainly about the issues of dealing with the problem aspect of magpie swooping. I reviewed it in Canberra Bird Notes 27: 138–139 (2002).


I would like to dissect a little, some quotes in the passage that Geoffrey originally posted: The quote is also less than helpful by not indicating time of year, situation, age and sex of the birds (especially the victimised one).


The aggressive birds gathered around the one they were attacking in a semi circle. Well if they are all equally motivated by aggression, then a circle (or semi circle) shape is the geometric result of all of the birds being equally located from a central point. That is what a circle is, so the cluster shape of the group is predictable.


Maybe each bird taking it in turn to attack the one is avoiding confusion of an all in brawl. When magpies fight on the ground I think it is usually two, whilst others may be squawking nearby.


The bird showed fear (maybe, but that is a human emotion and how does a person know this), it did not attempt to fly away. It may perhaps have been unable to fly, due to being sick, injured, exhausted, in shock or whatever. As most of magpie fighting is in flight, maybe it would have less of a beating by not flying. Who knows?


Each attacker flew away after attacking. That may be a result of them having released the motivation for the aggression for whatever reason. Or there may be no point in continuing with the aggression.




From: Alison [
Sent: Tuesday, 20 August, 2019 10:02 PM
To: 'Suzanne EDGAR'; 'Graeme Clifton';
Subject: RE: [canberrabirds] Magpie behaviour


I also bought and read her book some years ago as there didn’t seem to be any other definitive books on magpies available.


Based on my own observations I found her book interesting and filling in some gaps in my knowledge however, I did find that, while not a comment on the author but rather perhaps genuine lack of information, that there were many comments around ‘not known’.


I feel my observations could perhaps fill some of these gaps but reinforced my desire to be able to tag and track individual birds, especially those forced out by territories wars. Where do these birds go? Do they survive and find new territory? Where do the chicks go and how far, etc?  




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