Trove Tuesday – A Little Chatter About a Magpie

As it is the time of year when the young research assistant is too scared to go into our paddock or walk up the road for fear of swooping magpies, I thought this little treasure from Trove was fitting.  It is from the Ballarat Star of September 21, 1861.

EASTERN POLICE COURT. (1861, September 21). The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 – 1864), p. 1 Supplement: SUPPLEMENT TO THE STAR. Retrieved October 14, 2012, from

4 thoughts on “Trove Tuesday – A Little Chatter About a Magpie

  1. Fabulous. I don’t know what’s funnier – the 25 shillings is a huge amount of money, and the 20 quid is ‘tell him he’s dreaming’ territory, but the ‘the magpie is under a shawl and ‘screaming’? Everyone who has been pecked in the back of the head by a parenting bird is laughing at that one. I live in tall dense gumtrees and when I got to the bus shelter at the end of my street today there was a heap of big sticks there, used by travellers to ward off the head pecking on the way.
    Magpies are very charming when they get tamed by daily dinner treats though.
    Another great post MR, thanks.


    • It is funny. I love magpies and I have a magpie family that live in my paddock. They currently have three babies. The baby magpies are pathetic as they are almost as big as their parents but cry helplessly for food. I’ve also seen the babies play with the dog’s ball in the back yard. The sticks at the bus stop made me laugh as my son and his friend thought they would brave the magpie up the road and walk to the milk bar. Apparently on the way they got scared, ran into a house and were told to carry a stick. So they walked to the shop and back waving sticks.


    • I think they were common as caged birds and I searched Trove and even found references to caged magpies up until the 1930s. When I originally saw this article it reminded me of Bryce Courtney’s The Potato Factory as one of the characters had a pet magpie. It could have even been Mary Abacus. It used to sit in her hair or her hat (been awhile since I read it). Keeping them like that seemed to me to be a sign of eccentricity and the article kind of confirms that.


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