Bilingual Magpie

Subject: Bilingual Magpie
From: "Carol Probets" <>
Date: Thu, 07 Jan 1999 01:36:48 PST
Hello all,

I've just joined the mailing list and am enjoying reading all the 
messages from the last few days. Speaking of mimicry (as some were), I 
was reminded of the following.

Recently while walking through a carpark in the Katoomba shopping centre 
I heard the loud notes of a Pied Currawong. Not very unusual. However 
being a typical obsessed birder I automatically looked up into the tree 
where the sound came from, and was very surprised to see it was an 
immature magpie making the call.

There were (I presume real) currawongs calling from nearby trees and 
this magpie appeared to be calling in answer to them. A few minutes 
later a Rock Dove landed on a nearby branch and the magpie gave its own 
"correct" warble.

I have seen and heard this bird once more since then. Both times it was 
mimicking one of the currawong's drawn out wolf-whistle calls, not the 
familiar "curra-wong" call.

I am aware that Australian Magpies are known mimics, but I always 
believed (and this is backed up by the books I checked) that they mimic 
only in subsong - which this definitely wasn't. I wonder if this might 
be a captively reared bird which was raised amongst currawongs. WIRES 
members that I have spoken to did not know of the bird and it doesn't 
seem particularly tame.

Has anyone else heard magpies mimic in this way?

Carol Probets
Katoomba NSW

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