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In black and white

August 1, 2017

Black-and-white “stilt-walker”

While many of our native birds, especially woodland birds, are undoubtedly declining in numbers and distribution, some of our open-country birds seem to be bucking the trend. One of these is the Magpie-lark, otherwise known as Mudlark or Peewee, a common and familiar sight around the district. We have had four strutting around our place for some time, but in recent days this seems to have been reduced to a single pair who we suspect are working up to breeding. They are regularly emitting their loud antiphonal call as a duet (click on audio bar below for an example).

There is a distinct gender difference in the Magpie-lark’s plumage, with the male having a black face and throat, and white eyebrow, and the female having a white forehead and throat. Their nest, seen in the middle picture above, is a sturdy mud affair like a smaller version of the White-winged Chough’s nest.

The scientific name, Grallina cyanoleuca, means “blue and white stilt-walker”. The stiltwalker part is understandable, as they do forage on the ground on fairly long legs, but “blue and white”? – definitely black and white to us!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Geoff Leslie permalink
    August 3, 2017 10:30 pm

    I have often suspected that these magpie larks are declining also. I have seen very large aggregations at times in Autumn but not in recent years. There aren’t many in Yea.

    • macwake permalink*
      August 4, 2017 8:26 am

      Thanks for the comment, Geoff. Interesting that there are few around Yea. What prompted the post was that there seemed to be more than usual around the Flowerdale/Strath Creek area – not in great numbers but dispersed throughout the district.

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