The Australian magpie takes bird of the year win

Magpie by Matt Dawson

Congratulations to the Australian magpie, which has been crowned BirdLife Australia’s bird of the year for 2017, upsetting the early favourite, the white ibis, and winning 13.3% of the vote.

The magpie is a local throughout many Victorian neighbourhoods, and they’ve long been a favourite with Australians, many of whom enjoy their rich, carolling song.

The birds have adapted well to urbanisation and human expansion, successfully foraging in backyards and claiming public places as their ground. Magpies often become tame when people feed them, providing a genuine link between people and their local birdlife.

Magpies are not so popular during the spring nesting season, when the birds can swoop a passer-by to protect their nestlings. Though, you could consider being swooped by a magpie as an Australian rite of passage! Here's some fascinating facts about magpies:

  • A magpie will recognise other magpie’s and people by their faces.
  • Magpies are very friendly birds and, with their long memories, can form long-term bonds among themselves and with humans.
  • Their memories mean they remember when someone is good to them, and equally, someone who is not.
  • Despite their reputation for causing terror from above, only between eight and 10% of magpies swoop during the breeding season: these are invariably males protecting their families during the August-October nesting season.

We hope you enjoy seeing the nation’s beloved bird in your backyard throughout the busy Christmas period. 

Credit: facts sourced from Dr Gisela Kaplan