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Our "pet" magpie, Arthur
(Gymnorhina tibicen leuconota)

220K QuickTime audio file

Dianne and I have been "adopted" by two wild Australian magpies. They have been coming to visit us reasonably regularly over a period of six months. We originally thought that they were mother and son - he showed some immature behaviour, while she seemed much steadier and more mature. Of course we called them "Maggie" and "Arthur" ...

We subsequently worked out that they were not mother and son, but were a breeding pair. (My wife tells me that the female's more mature behaviour is typical in the human species, too).

They used to nest in a tall eucalyptus tree which we could see from our driveway. They have reared three chicks, who have now left the nest and lead them a merry dance during the daylight hours.

We feed them occasionally at our kitchen door. The female has several times actually come into the house if we have left the screen door ajar. I built a bird perch, which I attached to one of the awning supports at the back door of the house. The male, Arthur, regularly comes and stands either on the perch or on our clothes line. He often sings, and we have heard him imitating other birds and "talking" like a parrot, repeating things we have said to him, like "clever boy" and "good boy".

Recently I heard him whinny and snort like a horse. When I told Dianne she was somewhat sceptical. (I don't blame her - I have been known to pull the odd leg occasionally). We live near several hobby farms at Woodcroft, and I assume he has heard some of the horses there, while he was searching for food nearby.

I have made numerous attempts to record him singing and talking, and this is the first success I have had. It is a very short extract from one of several extensive recordings I made with my digital camera over a period of several weeks. Unfortunately the camera's digital files were huge (over 30 megabytes in some cases), so I couldn't put them on the web in their original form. I have used one audio track, extracted from the original movie and trimmed to 220K, and I have also included a QuickTime movie, much shortened to 764K.

View the 764K QuickTime movie file?

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