Your Christmas Shopping for a Song

Date posted: 04-Dec-2017

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

2018 Photo Comp opens for entries

Date posted: 27-Nov-2017

The 2018 Photo Competition is now open for entries. Click here (/2018-photo-competition-tiritiri-mat..

New reports on ruru nesting and Island conservation

Date posted: 02-Oct-2017

Two new reports have been added to the website. The first gives details of a summer students..

2018 calendars now available

Date posted: 27-Sep-2017

Our latest calendar, beautifully illustrated with images taken on the Island, is now available fo..

Guided walks for photographers

Date posted: 21-Jun-2017

For a wonderful day of wildlife photography please join us on Tiritiri Matangi Island for a Ph..

Ferry discounts for Supporters

Date posted: 18-May-2017

Tiritiri Matangi Island, the perfect winter's day trip. The birds are at their best, warm up w..

More kiwi for the Island

Date posted: 04-Apr-2017

In 1993 and 1995, sixteen little spotted kiwi were released on Tiritiri Matangi Island. The ma..

2017 Photo Competition

Date posted: 22-Mar-2017

It is that time of year again when we are looking for entries for our photo competition (and phot..

The 2017 concert

Date posted: 05-Feb-2017

This year's concert promises to be another wonderful and unique experience. Click here (/concert-..

Shorebird Film Festival at Devonport

Date posted: 26-Oct-2016

Click here (/miscellaneous documents/DevWaderFilms.jpg) for details of a forthcoming film festival c..

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.