Friday, 15 March 2013

Meeting the Peewee

The Magpie-lark (Grallina cyanoleuca) is a very common suburban bird in Brisbane, it is often seen searching for food walking frantically across lawns, in pairs most of the times, if one is around usually the other is not far. I had the chance to study a breeding pair for a while and I was able to notice some very interesting things.

Male and female pair for life, different sexes have different colour patterns, females (above) have white forehead and throat, while males (below) have white eyebrows, black forehead and throat. Jouveniles have a mixed pattern with white throat and large white eyebrows, dark eyes and beak, audults have very light eyes and beak.

Both parents are very protective and won't hesitate to attack much larger birds which may be a threat for the nest such as crows. The nest is built with mud, grass and leaves. Male and female exchange nest duties approximately every 15 minutes, they both search for food so the babies can enjoy a constant food supply.

As the day gets hotter the parent stops sitting on the baby birds and stands over them with wings half open to provide shade to the nestlings.

Magpie-larks, also known as Peewees, are known to sing in duet to defend their territory. Each partner produces about one note a second but a half-second apart, so to the human ear it sounds coming from the same bird.

This beautiful bird has a very charming black and white plumage, which seems to be rather in fashion for Australian birds, their flying style reminds me of that of some bigger species of butterflies.
I hope you enjoyed reading about the Magpie-lark, until next time,



  1. Beautiful! Love the different shades in black.

  2. Nice! It's always fun to learn about the birds you have over there.

  3. Thanks very much Ayuwat and David :)

  4. I enjoyed your post very much. The drawings and observations are lovely.

  5. Wow! Great info and fantastic artwork!

  6. I live in Melbourne. These birds are very attracted to mirrors and can often been seen tapping on car side-view mirrors. They are quite amusing. Lovely paintings!

  7. I just found your blog through Sketching in Nature and just LOVE your work. Your delicate touch is amazing -- the balance between detail and loose work really captures the spirit of these birds. I also read your last post on iridescent feathers, which was very informative and, of course, seeing your painted feathers was delightful. Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful work.

  8. Thank you Concetta, Revelle, Kaz and Joy, lovely to read all your comments!


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