Peewee the magpie-lark
Also known as:
pee-wee, pee-wit, peewit, Murray magpie, mud-lark, mudlark, pugwall, mud-nester
If you want to be a magpie-lark you have to learn to sing pee-wit correctly. I'm Peewee the magpie-lark from Calamvale Creek in Brisbane, Australia. Welcome to the world of pee-wees.
The name “magpie-lark” is actually wrong, because we are not related to either magpies or to larks. We may be black and white like magpies, but they are much bigger. It's like comparing jockeys with basketballers.
Where do I live?
You are more likely to see me on the ground than in the trees. And I prefer to be close to water. You can see me in the photo above on a rock beside the Golden Pond wetland. That is one of my rest areas.
Magpie-larks are found only in Australasia. You won't find many of us in rainforests or dry parts of Australia, but we will go almost everywhere else, including your yard and along roadsides — dodging traffic to find food.
What do I eat?
I like to patrol the shores of creeks, swamps, and soft ground.
Magpie-lark marriages and babies
When magpie-larks find a mate, we usually pair for life. We defend our territory together, and if food is plentiful we stay in the same area throughout the year.
Our nest is a little unusual. We make a roundish nest, about 18-20 centimetres (7-8 inches) in diameter, out of mud mixed with grass and other plant material (see photo below). We have to be near water, otherwise we won't be able to build our mud nest.
We line the nest with feathers to provide a soft bed for the 3-5 eggs Mrs Magpie-lark lays. We build it on a firm horizontal branch near water. The one above is almost 4 metres above water level.
When the mud dries, it is as hard as concrete.
You may not realize when you hear us sing that we are singing in duet. Mrs Magpie-lark and I take turns singing a note about a half-second apart. Humans think this is one bird calling, but it is a duet we sing together to announce that we live in this territory.
— Peewee the magpie-lark