Sunday, 1 November 2015


I've just returned from my daily walk.  It was cool and drizzly and I saw very few birds.  However, I did witness a remarkable thing:  a magpie that was mimicking.  It was a young bird, I'm not sure which sex, I was standing underneath it, looking straight up at it.  In fact, it took me a while to find it.  I could hear a magpie's whisper song, so I looked for the bird.  There's a very large conifer where magpies often perch, so I expected to find it in that.  When I couldn't see it, I looked elsewhere, and the bird was right above me, quite close, sitting on the electricity wires.

It was happily singing its whisper song, and at the end of each phrase, it inserted the alarm call from an emergency vehicle.

I've witnessed this just once before, some years ago in Western Australia, in a public park.  A magpie was mimicking a race caller on the radio.  That magpie did not insert his mimicking into his usual carolling, as this one did, he concentrated entirely on his imitation of someone calling a horse race on the radio, including background crowd noises.  Remarkable.

Australian Magpie (this is not the bird that was mimicking)