Australian Magpies Cracticus tibicen are such ubiquitous birds that its easy to overlook their extraordinary character and beauty.
They are also one of the most studied of all Australian species. One of my favourite bird books is Bird Life, by Ian Rowley, a respected CSIRO scientist involved in some of the early studies of the species around Canberra and central New South Wales. In the book he recounts how researchers studied the behaviour and ecology of magpies before the advent of bird banding by recognising the unique patterns and marking of individual birds – what a feat!
Australian Magpies are a single species, with a number of different forms, or races, based on geography. In central Victoria we have the white-backed race, which readily hybridises with the black-backed form that occurs further north towards the Murray River. One short post does not do justice to this marvellous bird!