Monday, March 25, 2013


This evening Mum and her friend took the dogs for a walk. I watched them gather up the hounds as they do every afternoon, waving leash clips as their entreaty. I felt like taking a clandestine photograph of these women dressed in raincoats, colourful beanies, psychedelic-rimmed op shop glasses and sensible shoes, their black and brindle dogs jumping all around them.

After they left, I saw the flash of a magpie beyond the lattice. I leave food out for them: old rice or breakfast cereals, any scraps that don't make it to the worm farm get thrown to the dogs or the magpies. In the nesting season I leave out strands of my hair for their nests.

This magpie visitor carolled and sang ... then it bloody talked about going for a walk, I swear it.

I stood up and the bird flew away.
Maybe Mum hadn't gone for a walk, I thought. Maybe she'd stayed in the driveway and it was her voice I could hear. It was uncanny. It sounded exactly like her warbling when she gathers up the dogs to put their leashes at the same time every day.
I thought I must be going mad. I've never heard a talking magpie before.

Mick was the first to come home from work and I mentioned the magpie, kinda casually in case he thought I was going crazy too.
'I'm glad you told me that, Sarah,' he said. 'The other day, I'm sure a magpie said hello to me. It sounded just like your mum.'
('Hello Mick!')

Has anyone else around these parts come across a talking magpie? This one is a young male, with clean cut black and white markings. He talks like a parrot, only more eloquent. He's not just a mimic ... I feel he could be a conversationalist.


  1. Yes, we have magpies on the hill that say 'hello' and bark like dogs. Sometimes I think it is the dog or a person and look around to find a magpie in a nearby tree.

  2. So I'm definitely hearing things then ... but not going mad!

  3. We've had magpies that have speech sounds in the middle of their songs - but I've never been able to quite work out what they were trying to say. And yes to dog like barking too. The youngsters seem to like trying out all kinds of sounds from their surroundings as they learn to warble.

  4. Thanks Janine, yes this was a young one and he was trying out conversations. He seems to especially like copying Mum's voice.

  5. Apparently, magpies can mimic (or maybe they talk other languages, who knows?) If they can imitate dogs, sirens and other birds and so on...surely they could catch on to the tune of your mum's voice!

    I'll have to ask my mother about it as she loves magpies.

    There are plenty of recordings on youtube like this:

    Maybe you could record it...just so you know you're not going mad...

    Birds talk to me all the time, of course, as you know. Animals are clever.

    Our cats 'imitate' my " hello" to them...just to let me know they cat-speak is poor.

  6. That's hilarious yes, how animals can understand our words and we can't theirs? And we are supposed to be the clever ones. Bobcat says hello to me too.

  7. Our little black poodle has learnt to talk since we have had her. When we got her at 2 years of age she said absolutely nothing. But now she tells me long stories about how she REALLY needs her dinner. I swear she is trying to emulate speech.