Story: Introduced land birds

Nesting white-backed magpies

Magpies were introduced from Australia. They normally nest in exotic trees, like this pair in a pine. They are found throughout the North Island and in most parts of the South Island, except Central Otago and the northern and southern tips of the West Coast. They have entered the national mythology, as in Denis Glover’s poem, ‘The magpies’.

The magpies

When Tom and Elizabeth took the farm
The bracken made their bed,
And Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle
The magpies said.

Tom’s hand was strong to the plough
Elizabeth’s lips were red,
And Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle
The magpies said.

Year in year out they worked
While the pines grew overhead,
And Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle
The magpies said.

But all the beautiful crops soon went
To the mortgage-man instead,
And Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle
The magpies said.

Elizabeth is dead now (it’s years ago);
Old Tom went light in the head;
And Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle
The magpies said.

The farm’s still there. Mortgage corporations
Couldn’t give it away.
And Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle
The magpies say.

Using this item

Department of Conservation
Reference: 10023892
Photograph by Peter Reese

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Sound file from the Department of Conservation

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How to cite this page:

Christina Troup, 'Introduced land birds - Australian magpies', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/natural-sounds/17152/nesting-white-backed-magpies (accessed 18 July 2019)

Story by Christina Troup, published 24 Nov 2008, reviewed & revised 17 Feb 2015