What does it look and sound like? This large black and white bird is common and familiar. Its conspicuous plumage varies throughout the species range. The nape, upper tail and shoulders are white in all forms and in most cases the remainder of the body is black. Birds from Tasmania, the south-east, centre and extreme south-west of mainland Australia have an entirely white back. In addition to this, the white of the upperparts are more grey in the female birds. An uncommon alternative name for the Australian Magpie is Flute Bird, which was given due to its loud musical flute-like song.
What are its habitats and habits? It prefers open grassy areas, with scattered trees, where it walks along the ground searching for the insects and their larvae that constitute the bulk of its diet.
Interesting fact: In South Australia it is also known as the Piping Shrike, and is the state’s unofficial bird emblem.
Scientific name: Gymnorhina tibicen