Magpie mimicry

To: <>
Subject: Magpie mimicry
From: Syd Curtis <>
Date: Tue, 08 Jan 2002 09:05:02 +1000

Robert Quinan wrote:

The cockatoo called again and on the third call I took a bit more notice and realised it was the Magpie imitating the bird.  As I listened to the Magpie I also heard a nice Pied Currawong, snippets of the Grey Butcherbird's call and a chatter that sounded like an Eastern Rosella, all nicely integrated into the Magpie's natural song.  It repeated these calls quite a few times as I listened for about 5 minutes.

I recall the late Norman Robinson giving a talk on ABC radio about lyrebird mimicry and in the course of the talk he mentioned that a local magpie (this up on the hills behind Helena Valley to the east of Perth) imitated a horse.  Norman played a recording of this and there was a typical magpie warble but it continued into the unmistakable sound of a neighing horse.

BTW, a friend in England sent me a tape of an interview which included discussion of the several species of tits.  Mentioned was the intense competition for feeding tables.  However, if a predator was sighted an alarm call was given, and all species dived for cover.  The person being interviewed said that one Tit had learned to give the alarm call as a means of clearing the table of competition.  

Has anyone on birding-aus encountered any use of mimicry for some specific purpose like that?

Syd Curtis in Brisbane

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