Photo: Courtesy of
Naturalist Guide Damon Ramsey
MAGPIE-LARK: Grallina cyanoleuca
Also known as 'Pee-wee', 'Mud-nester', 'Murray Magpie'
This is yet another black and white Australian bird that is quite common throughout the continent.
It is slightly dimorphic, with the female having a more whitish head than the male. But while it struts around rather confidently, the bird is cursed with no suitable common name.
The name 'magpie-lark' is another English derived name that is one again inappropriate, as the bird is neither a magpie, nor a lark.
Unfortunately Pee-wee' is already used as the name for a group of birds in the neotropics; the name for both unrelated birds coming from a description of the most obvious call which is a loud, whistled double note of "peet-weet!".
In the Australian Pee-wee, this is often performed as an enthusiastic antiphonal duet between the male and the female.
The name 'mudnester' was perhaps a good name until recent DNA research took it out of a group of 'mud-nesting' birds, and into the Australian/Asian flycatchers along with the drongos.
Another name 'Murray magpie' comes from the association with our biggest waterway in the continent, and reflects their natural habitat in open areas near wetlands and rivers in the bush.
This is often forgotten these days as 'Pee-wees' have done so well with urbanization and farming and are common wherever there are people.
ourtesy of Naturalist Guide Damon Ramsey
Additional Magpie-lark Photos
RETURN TO BIRD INDEX