Can anybody explain this magpie behaviour please?

To: 'Charmian Lawson' <>, 'COG' <>
Subject: Can anybody explain this magpie behaviour please?
From: Philip Veerman <>
Date: Mon, 23 Dec 2019 04:24:34 +0000

It is always hard to explain something like this. Sure we can suggest stuff but really hard to know if it is right. Sometimes magpies are just very aggressive. Last night I was at the old cemetery site in Evatt, a plot of lots of dry, presumably seeding grasses, where there was close to 200 Galahs including many begging young making their usual racket. About 5 Magpies in the block would fly around past the galahs and at almost every flying pass they would “charge” the galahs as part of the process of landing on the ground. It looked like they were targeting the noisy young ones but I don’t know. I did not count.  Your distressed cockatoo maybe was just a young bird making begging sounds or maybe a bird with beak and feather disease. I don’t know but I make those suggestions. The last line in your message is quite common behaviour of adult magpies evicting a grown chick from their territory.




From: Charmian Lawson [
Sent: Monday, 23 December, 2019 1:41 PM
Subject: [canberrabirds] Can anybody explain this magpie behaviour please?


Good afternoon


We have a family of four magpies, three adults and a juvenile, who frequent the big tree in our back yard.


On Friday, the very hot and smoky day, they were shouting non-stop. There was a yellow crested cockatoo in the tree and it was in dire straits. I thought initially they were distressed by its distress and the calling reflected this.


However, they started strafing it, trying to drive it away. This seemed to go on for ages. The cockatoo was very ill, and only recovered sufficiently to fly away after I had misted it thoroughly with the hose four times.


Now the shouting has started again. There is a cockatoo in “their” tree and I think it is the one from Friday but cannot be sure.


Can anybody please explain the magpies’ behaviour? They are usually pretty placid (except for one of the younger birds from 2017 I think, which one frequently attacked to the degree that the poor thing literally ran away and hid every  time the aggressive magpie flew in. Very sad to see.) and I really would like to know what is going on.


Thank you


Charmian Lawson


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