We have been having some lovely moonlit nights recently, and from the bush outside our bedroom window, we’ve been hearing an Australian Magpie, gymnorhina tibicen, calling throughout the night.
It is quite common for them to do this on well-illuminated moonlit evenings. Not only Magpies, but other birds such as Willy Wagtails, are well-known for this behaviour. What is interesting with Mapgies is that they have quite a different call nocturnally than their usual day-time calls.
Magpies are regarded by many as having one of the most beautiful songs in the bush, a liquid series of rippling notes, sort of an extended warble. Being a bird found throughout the continent, their calls can be thought of as a characteristically Australian bush sound.
Magpies have thus featured on several of our albums, such as ‘A Morning in the Australian Bush’, ‘Favourite Australian Birdsong’ and ‘Birdsong Virtuosos of Australia’.
Nevertheless, we’ve had requests from listeners who were hoping for an album dedicated just to Magpies – a celebration of Magpies.
At first I thought such a project could be an overdose of Magpies! However on listening through some of our recordings, I realised that they have such character and diversity in their songs that they are effortlessly entertaining.
When I came across the collective noun for Australia’s Magpies, I new I’d found the ideal title for the album: ‘A Madrigal of Magpies’. Very evocative, appropriate, and preferable to the northern hemisphere’s ‘murder of magpies’ (entirely different species of course).
One of the recordings we chose for the album features the Magpie’s nocturnal song. It is much slower and lazier than their diurnal song – as nocturnal birdsong often is (listen to the 3am Pied Butcherbird song on ‘Spirit of the Outback for instance). But the Magpie’s nightsong is also structurally quite different too. Why this is, and why they sing like this at all, I don’t know, but their lazy warbles on a moonlit night are a pure delight.
Here is a sample from ‘A Madrigal of Magpies’ to listen to.
This audio sample features three excerpts from album tracks. The first minute or so is from a morning in bushland, and you can hear the Magpies’ typical daytime call, including some nice warbling among a chorus of other birdsong. The second is the nocturnal song (with some White-plumed Honeyeater dawn calls), and you can hear how lazy and relaxed it is compared to the diurnal ones. The last minute or so comes from Magpies recorded near suburban Melbourne and in an open rural district.
‘A Madrigal of Magpies’ is available on CD or by direct digital download exclusively from our website: Here is the direct link to view the album.
Established in 1993 by nature sound recordist Andrew Skeoch and photographer Sarah Koschak, Listening Earth offers a range of beautiful nature sound recordings from around the world.
"Our albums feature only the sounds of nature as you would hear in the wild - no music or other distractions. Recorded in often remote and pristine locations, they bring you the relaxing and beautiful sounds of our living planet. Listen, and let our recordings take you there."