Backyard Buddies
Magpie-lark

Photo: Rosie Nicolai

Magpie-lark

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The Magpie-lark is a common bird with many different names. It is also called a Peewee, Peewit, Mudlark or Little Magpie. Its name Magpie-lark is also confusing because it is neither a Magpie nor a Lark. It is more closely related to Monarchs, Fantails and Drongos.

Whatever you call them, they're pretty adaptable and they'll live just about anywhere. As long as there is open space for them to search for food, and the occasional bit of water for them to make their mud nests, they're happy. They live throughout Australia, and have even set up home in southern New Guinea and Timor.

Dense forests and the driest of deserts are about the only places that you won't find them. Around your place, you'll see Magpie-larks as they visit parks, ovals, road verges, lawns and backyards.

Magpie-larks find most of their food as they walk through short grass or patches of bare, soft ground. They have a distinctive walk moving their heads back and forth.

Magpie-larks love fat juicy worms, insects, and caterpillars. They scrounge around for small invertebrates, and will also eat spiders, small lizards, moths, and some freshwater invertebrates - you can often spot them patrolling the soft ground along the shores of creeks and swamps.

To build its nest, the Magpie-lark gathers plant fibres and uses mud like mortar to plaster everything together. It then lines the nest with soft grass, tufts of fur, feathers or any other cosy material it can get its beak on. Nests are commonly on firm horizontal branches. It lays 3-5 eggs. Depending on conditions, breeding is usually from August to February, and the Magpie-lark lays 3-5 eggs.

Listen out for the Magpie-lark calling 'Peewee, peewee' or  'doodit doodit'. Peewee mates sing complicated duets - one sings 'Peewee' and its partner responds 'wit!' - and they both raise their wings above their heads as they call.

A male and female will stand together in their favourite spot and sing a duet as a territorial display. Scientists have discovered that the more synchronised and harmonious the pair is, the more likely they are to signal a threat to other Magpie-larks.

Magpie-larks love:

But they don't like:

Try to:

Avoid:

Don't be surprised if Magpie-larks:

A few more Magpie-lark facts

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