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Re: Magpie mayhem



> I mentioned that magpies attack people here in Canberra.

And nobody doubted it -- except that those magpies aren't magpies in every
sense of the world. Holarctic magpies (*Pica pica*, Corvidae) never do this;
they are rather shy. We just have the usual phenomenon here that settlers
from another continent apply the names of familiar, more or less similar
animals and plants to those of a new continent. I was quite shocked to learn
what American blackbirds are! (That is, the entire Icteridae, a purely New
World clade that contains e. g. the red-winged blackbird
http://www.shoredogs.org/images/birds/blackbird.jpg and the yellow-headed
blackbird http://www.assateague.com/data-bird/blackbird-yellow-headed.jpg.
Eurasian blackbird, *Turdus merula* [Turdidae = Muscicapidae: Turdinae], for
comparison: http://www.skopelos.net/birds/blackbird.htm -- though the female
is odd, over here they've got light brown beaks.)
        "Bandicoot" is the name of an Indian rat species.

The Australian magpie has a German name which retranslates as "blackback
flutebird". With its light grey beak, short tail, red eyes and relatively
gregarious behaviour it is easy to tell apart from the Holarctic magpie,
which has such long tail feathers that most illustrations of a flying
*Archaeopteryx* have been copied from it, along with black eyes, dark grey
beak, rather solitary behaviour. Do Australian magpies share the metallic
sheen on the black feathers that gives them a green to violet tinge
depending on the angle of view?