Australian Magpie picking earthworms

“A holiday to Victor Harbor, South Australia never fails to delight us with its abundance and variety of sea birds.

“Being novices at birdwatching and videography, we would like to share our amateurish video of the Australian Magpie (Cracticus tibicen telonocua).

“We were walking along the playground at Kent Reserve when we encountered two birds foraging on the ground. As we walked slowly towards the two birds, the bigger bird kept its distance from us. However, the smaller one was quite fearless and continued to mind its own business and foraged towards us. It came to within 1 m of us at the nearest. Throughout our half–hour encounter with them, the smaller bird appeared to be a juvenile in its behaviour although it was foraging independently.

“On returning to Singapore, a simple check returned the information that juveniles are more mottled in the white areas. The picture at the top captures the mottling on its white back.

“The video above captures the juvenile probing the ground damp from the recent rains. It went about it systematically. We were amazed at its ability to draw up fat juicy earthworms each time it drew its beak up from the ground. The bird seemed to assess the ground tentatively and knew whether a worm was underground. It also emitted sounds that are captured in the video.

“The second video above captures the same bird pulling a longer earthworm out from the soil and breaking it into a few fragments. It then ate the pieces one by one.”

Teo Lee Wei & K
June 2013

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