Tis the season, of Gymnorhina tibicen.

I’m sure you have noticed. An arousing homeopathic tease of spring in the air.
Days are just that little bit warmer, the sunsets are sneaking out just that little bit later, and buds are all popcorn on the stove.
But of course, it is just a tease, and no doubt it will backslide to winter for a few days yet before setting in proper.

For me, spring will always be the season of the Magpie.
Their throaty dawn call seems even more beautiful this time of the year (appropriately, the Australian Magpie’s Latin name ‘tibicen means “flute-player” or “piper”). Whenever I return from travel overseas, the welcome call is quintessential geolocation that I am home.

“A magpie can be happy or sad: sometimes so happy that he sits on a high, high gum tree and rolls the sunrise around in his throat like beads of pink sunlight; and sometimes so sad that you would expect the tears to drip off his beak.
This magpie was like that.”

Colin Thiele. Magpie Island.

Spring is the time Magpies engage in territorial defence swooping to protect their young. Although injuries (some serious) have resulted from Magpie attacks, they are uncommon.
Still, it is the season bicycle helmets sprout cable-tie spikes, pedestrians scan the sky, and hunch, and strut, and duck across intersections in an Aussie ritual of Pythonesque silly walks, and wobbly rides.

An unexpected crack of wings and snap of beak (always from behind, and always when you are not expecting it!) is almost a right of passage, a wake-up shock that gets your juices pumping and makes it known that the winter slumber is over and spring is coming at you.

I snapped this picture of one of our local Maggie friends in our backyard.

2 responses to “Tis the season, of Gymnorhina tibicen.”

  1. Your description of the Aussie Magpie is delightful. We have one in the American west but it doesn’t normally cross the mountains to my area. I enjoyed the European magpies when we were in the northern EU a few years ago. Once in a while a species of owl gets aggressive around people in spring like you describe but it sounds like it’s a more widespread behavior where you are – it’s almost always an amusing encounter!


  2. Beautifully written and great photo but I’m curious to know. Is he, or is he not carrying something in his ( or her ) feet ?


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