Magpie-lark demanding food

Yes they can be belligerent. Some individuals will attack people when
nesting. I think we all would have noted that they often display aggression
towards Australian Magpies (which ignore them). I suspect (obviously I can’t
know) that they are reacting to a black & white bird that they see as a
bigger version of themself and thus a threat (not too different from them
attacking mirrors). I think that tells us something more about their
aggression as this is clearly a deeply ingrained behaviour.

The idea of demanding food could be relevant. Some will accept hand feeding.
It might just be a learned addition to the aggression. As it is hard to
think why they would otherwise start the behaviour. There aren’t many other
animals that will give food to an unrelated animal, simply because it
squeals at them. I suspect it is the people that respond that way (feeding
them) that sets up the learned pattern (if that is what is happening). Then
again there are vast numbers of animals that easily learn that people will
give them food, so it can’t be that difficult.


—–Original Message—–
From: Birding-Aus [> wrote:

> On the way home tonight, I crossed a small park in Melbourne and
> watched a Magpie-lark standing on the ground about a metre from a
> couple sitting on a seat, calling loudly right at them. It wandered
> aimlessly for a few seconds, then stood facing them and gave them another
> Lots of people would eat lunch in that park, so I assume it might have
> learned that this earns it a bit of the victim’s lunch.
> Has anyone else seen this behaviour?
> Peter Shute

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