Hihi volunteer needed

Date posted: 18-Oct-2018

Would you like to volunteer with the Island's hihi team and learn from them how ..

2019 Calendars now available

Date posted: 05-Sep-2018

The new 2019 calendars are now available and this year's is better than ever! Th..

Winners of kokako photo competition

Date posted: 02-Sep-2018

The stunning winning photographs from those submitted to the competition as part..

Kokako Celebration

Date posted: 21-Jul-2018


Kokako Photographic Competition

Date posted: 20-Jul-2018

KĊŒKAKO PHOTOGRAPHIC COMPETITION Celebrating 21 years on Tiritiri Matangi To ce..

New monitoring reports published

Date posted: 19-Jul-2018

Reports on monitoring studies carried out over the past year have now been poste..

2018 Concert coming up soon

Date posted: 15-Feb-2018

Our 2018 concert will feature an afternoon of light classics and jazz courtesy of the Auckland Ph..

Wetapunga talk coming soon

Date posted: 05-Feb-2018

For the Social on 19 March the speaker will be Ben Goodwin of Auckland Zoo, who will talk about t..

Rat caught and now takahe released from pens

Date posted: 28-Jan-2018

Thankfully DOC staff Andre de Graaf and Polly Hall and their assistants have trapped the rat whic..

Your Christmas Shopping for a Song

Date posted: 04-Dec-2017

Aka - The Grand Christmas Shopping Expedition to Tiritiri Matangi Island Shop Dreading..

Australian Magpie

Scientific name:

 Gymnorhina tibicen



Conservation status

 Introduced and naturalised

Mainland status:

 Locally common


 41cm, 350g 


 6+ yrs, in Aust 19+ yrs possibly


 July - December


 Omnivorous, but mainly invertebrates

Introduced from Australia between 1864 and 74 to control pasture pests, magpies were protected until 1951. Two sub-species, the black-backed and the white-backed, were introduced, but the white-backed magpie predominates except in Hawke’s Bay and North Canterbury where up to 95% are black-backed. Magpies are widespread in open farmland with trees or forest, parks and gardens.

This large black and white bird has a pale bluish-grey, black-tipped bill. The song, which is heard especially at dawn and dusk, is a beautiful, flute-like carolling, characterised as ‘quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle’ in Denis Glover's famous poem. Young birds are often heard softly 'practising' their song as they potter around feeding.

The Australian magpie eats a wide variety of invertebrates such as grass grubs, weevils, army worm caterpillars, porina, worms, spiders, ants, flies, crickets and snails. These are supplemented with seeds, grain, small birds, eggs, lizards, mice and carrion. Although magpies are widely assumed to have a detrimental effect on other bird species, there is little evidence for this. Birds and eggs form only a small proportion of their diet and they are opportunistic feeders rather than active predators. They may even help to protect other species by driving away any harriers that appear in their territory.

Breeding takes place between July and December. The nest is a platform of twigs with a cup lined with small twigs, leaves, grass and wool, usually built high in tall trees such as pines, macrocarpas or eucalyptus. The clutch of 2–5 pale bluish green eggs with olive blotches is incubated by the female for 20–21 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge at around 28 days old.  

A pair of Australian magpies frequents the southern part of Tiritiri Matangi. They and their offspring are often seen around the lighthouse area and on Coronary Hill.

Learn more about the Australian magpie at New Zealand Birds Online.

Photographs, adult male (right) and adult female (left) by: Kay Milton ©

References: Heather, B.D.; Robertson, H.A. 2000 The Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand. Auckland, Viking. Moon, G The Reed Field Guide to New Zealand Birds.