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Tropical North Queensland, Australia.
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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.
    Script courtesy of Naturalist Guide Damon Ramsey

Additional Magpie-lark Photos


Chambers Wildlife Rainforest Lodges
Lake Eacham, Atherton Tablelands
Tropical North Queensland, Australia.
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