You've heard about magpies. You've heard about Australia. You know they're both awesome. Put them together, and you have "Cracticus tibicen", one of the coolest birds around.
  1. First of all, just look at this beauty.
    Is that a handsome bird or what?
  2. One of Australia's most accomplished songbirds
    Too bad doesn't let video embedding yet. But this is like a cross between Adele and Jay Pharaoh: it combines a complex, warbling song of its own with an uncanny ability to imitate 35 other species of birds, plus dogs, horses and, yup, human speech.
  3. They are family birds
    They live in small flocks that rally against raptors when spotted. They defend their territory vigorously against other flocks, and their land might be in their family for generations.
  4. They will swoop on you like the world's smallest dive bomber
    During the breeding season, males can become overly aggressive, and we're talking about a bird that's over 40 cm (17 in) long. But there are some (informal) reports that if they are hand fed, they won't see humans as a threat. Worth a try!
  5. They are among the few birds that play
    Giphy downsized medium
    A few Aussie magpies have been adopted by kind folks and compare them to dogs. Only a few birds are smart enough or evolved enough to engage in play time (the others are crows, giant hornbills and a small songbird called the Arabian babbler). One particular magpie named Penguin took the Internet by storm when she adopted a family who raised her to health after they found her injured on their fan. Their Instagram feed (penguinthemagpie) is one of my favorites. (And there's a book!)
  6. They're just... cool.
  7. If you're an Australian and think I'm full of it...
    ...or you think I fell short, do say so in the comments.