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(Grallina cyanoleuca)
Alternate name(s): "Peewee", "Mudlark", "Murray Magpie", "Little Magpie", "Peewit", "Pugwall"
Aboriginal name(s): "beelarl", "iyebana", "koolootaroo", "marronoo" Race "cyanoleuca": "barriindjiin" [gamilaraay, yuwaalaraay]; "dilabot", "byoolkolyedi", "koolyibarak" (WA)

Size: 26-30 cm
Weight: 60-100 g
Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Magpie-lark at Wikipedia .

Click here for classification information

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range


Click here for sighting information


Race "cyanoleuca"



Frontal view of a male Magpie-lark (photo courtesy of R. Druce)

Near-lateral view of a male Magpie-lark going for a drink in hot weather
[20 km South of Narrabri, NSW, 2006]

Lateral view of a male Magpie-lark
[Eulah Creek, NSW, March 2013]

Lateral view of a male Magpie-lark
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2017]

Lateral view of a preening male Magpie-lark (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[South West Rocks, NSW, July 2017]

Near-dorsal view of a male Magpie-lark
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2017]

Dorsal view of a male Magpie-lark
[Eulah Creek, NSW, June 2017]

Male Magpie-lark trying to impress the thought on a Channel-billed Cuckoo near its nest that it would be advantageous for it to move on
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2008]

While calling, this male Magpie-lark is showing its underwing pattern
[20 km South of Narrabri, NSW, January 2006]


Female Magpie-lark on our lawn
[20 km South of Narrabri, NSW, 2006]

Dorsal view of a female Magpie-lark
[20 km South of Narrabri, NSW, 2006]


Frontal view of an immature Magpie-lark; note the dark-grey irises and the greyish bill
[Burren Junction, NSW, December 2015]

Lateral view of an immature Magpie-lark
[Burren Junction, NSW, December 2015]

Frontal view of a fledgling Magpie-lark
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2007]

Near-lateral view of a fledgling Magpie-lark (photo courtesy of C. Hayne)

Dorsal view of a fledgling Magpie-lark
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2007]

This young Magpie-lark was on its first day out of the nest, squawking together with its siblings to be fed...
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2010]

... and here is dad Magpie-lark with food
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2010]

Race "neglecta"


Ventral view of a Magpie-lark, race "neglecta"
[Darwin, NT, August 2014]

Breeding information

Breeding season: Jul - Jan Eggs: 3 - 5 Incubation period: 18 days Fledging age: 21 days


Given the right conditions, Magpie-larks can breed any time of the year.


"bungobittah", "malunna" = nest [Aboriginal]

Type: Basket in mud bowl Material: Mud, grass, feathers Height above ground: 2 - 10 m


Additional information

Mud nests are sought after by several other species. We have compiled some more information on the (re-)use of mud nests.

Additional information

Magpie-larks like to take advantage of the protection offered by nesting under an Australian Magpie nest. There is now a separate page about various bird species nesting under the umbrella of a stronger, protective species.

Close-up view of a Magpie-lark's mud nest
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2010]

This Magpie-lark nest is still under construction
[Near Narrabri, NSW, November 2007]

THe same Magpie-lark nest seen from the other side, now complete
[Near Narrabri, NSW, November 2007]

View from above into a Magpie-lark nest, showing its lining
[Moree, NSW, November 2011]

Magpie-lark on its nest, with two chicks begging for food (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, December 2013]

Magpie-lark nestling down to warm the two chicks (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, December 2013]

The two Magpie-lark chicks had just fledged when this visitor, an Eastern Water Dragon, came along to have a close look
(photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, December 2013]

This Magpie-lark is sitting on its nest, built in March (after a big rainfall event), in late April, with winter approaching; this is the Magpie-lark whose calls were recorded on 23 April 2014
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2014]

Magpie-lark nest built from red soil in the interior of WA (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Boolardy Station, Murchison, WA, August 2016]

Three Magpie-lark chicks begging to be fed (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Darwin, NT, January 2018]


"boyanga", "booyanga", "derinya", "dirandil", "koomura", "ngampu", "nooluk", "pateena" = Egg; "dirundirri" = eggs [Aboriginal]; "gawu" = eggs [gamilaraay]

Size: 29 x 20 mm Colour: Pinkish-whiteish, with dark red-brown speckles Shape: Tapered oval


View from above into a Magpie-lark nest with 4 eggs in it
[Eulah Creek, NSW]

View from above into a Magpie-lark nest with 3 eggs in it (photo courtesy of C. Hayne)

Fragments of a Magpie-lark egg that fell to the ground with the nest it was in during a violent storm

Fragment of a Magpie-lark egg shell that had been disposed of by the birds
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2012]


Social behaviour: Territorial Mobility: Sedentary/dispersive Elementary unit: Pair


At our former place 20 km south of Narrabri Magpie-larks were winter guests. During the summer of 2005 they preferred to stay in the adjacent bush. In 2006 they occasionally came for a bath and a drink on very hot days. 20 km east of Narrabri they nest in the trees near the house.

Seen by us to defend their territory vigorously against the intrusion of Channel-billed Cuckoos, who will host on them if given a chance.

Food, Diet

Magpie-larks are insect hunters. Contrary to the technique of many other birds (e.g., flycatchers), they catch their prey by snapping at insects they disturb when strutting around on the ground.

Magpie-lark on the edge of a pool of water; it is not known whether the bird was drinking or hunting for insects (photo courtesy of J. Ross-Taylor)
[Stanthorpe, QLD, March 2015]


For this species we have recorded the following call(s)/song. The interpretation of their meaning is our own; comments and suggestions for improvement are welcome.

peewee_art_20131117.m4a cyanoleuca
Contact call © ART
peewee_20140107.mp3 cyanoleuca
Contact call © MD
peewee_art_20131203.m4a cyanoleuca
Pair Q&A (in-flight) © ART
peewee_20140224.mp3 cyanoleuca
Warning call © MD
peewee_20140330.mp3 cyanoleuca
Warning call (Aust. Raven) © MD
peewee_art_20131123.mp3 cyanoleuca
Alarm call © ART
peewee_20140816_3.mp3 neglecta
(Top End, NT)
Contact calls © MD
peewee_20140818.m4a neglecta
(Top End, NT)
Pair Q&A © MD
peewee_20140816.mp3 neglecta
(Top End, NT)
Warning call(?) © MD
peewee_20140816_2.mp3 neglecta
(Top End, NT)
? © MD
peewee_20140816_4.m4a neglecta
(Top End, NT)
? © MD
peewee_20140816_5.m4a neglecta
(Top End, NT)
? © MD
Click here for more recordings

We have also recorded Magpie-larks' wing beats.

peewee_20140404_4.mp3 cyanoleuca
© MD

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.

Would you like to contribute photos or sound recordings to this site?
If interested, please CLICK HERE. Credits to contributors are given HERE.