Australian magpie at the National Arboretum Canberra

Australian magpie at the National Arboretum Canberra
September 2022
Cartoon Australian magpie drawn at the National Arboretum in Canberra, with a sunrise over Black Mountain

Next in my Canberra Birds artwork series: Australian Magpie at National Arboretum. This is a cartoon-style drawing of an Australian magpie flying through the air at the National Arboretum in Canberra.

Image detail: Australian magpie at the National Arboretum

Cartoon magpie head detail
Detail of Visitor's centre of National Arboretum, Canberra
Pink trees: Mediterranean Redbud in blossom
Kites flying in the air over the Margaret Whitlam Pavillion
Drawing of Telstra Tower in silhouette of morning sun sunrise
Cartoon kites flying above green grassy hillside

The bird: Australian magpie

Magpie on ground looking towards camera
Image: Australian Magpie (Gymnorhina tibicen) by Graham Winterflood

Magpies are one of the most beloved birds of Australia. With an iconic black and white colour scheme and a distinctive song, magpies are one of the country’s most distinctive bird species.

Magpie standing on grass
Image: Cracticus tibicen hypoleuca, male by JJ Harrison

The Australian Magpie reached the #3 spot of most sighted birds during the 2021 Australian Backyard Bird Count. For those participating in Canberra, the magpie was the #1 most sighted bird. The species won the inaugural Australian Bird of the Year poll in 2017 following a public vote by Guardian Australia.
Magpie standing on grass, looking for food
Image: Gymnorhina tibicen by Alison Klein

Magpies will stand watchfully in open areas of ground, waiting to spot a worm or insect to eat.
Australian magpie with insect in beak
Image: Australian magpie hungry by sandid

Magpies have a very distinctive warbling song, which is a familiar part of the morning soundscape of Australia.

Magpies are most infamously known for their aggressive swooping behaviour during the spring nesting season. As territorial creatures, magpies will actively defend their eggs and juveniles from potential threats that come too close for comfort. They will repeatedly swoop the intruder, with the attacks designed to scare the person out of their territory. Cyclists and pedestrians are often targeted.

Only a small percentage of magpies engage in this swooping behaviour, and the ones that are ‘swoopers’ will often only target a particular type of victim. For example, some will target children pedestrians, and others will target cyclists. Personally, I use the website Magpie Alert to log the times when I have been swooped, and to check my route before cycling to unfamiliar parts of town.
Australian magpie in flight, side view
Image: Magpie in flight, female by fir0002

The location: the National Arboretum Canberra

My scene is pictured at the National Arboretum Canberra. This is an extensive site that is roughly 10 minutes drive from the centre of Canberra. The arboretum is planted on land that was burned during the 2003 Canberra bushfires. Within the bounds of the arboretum, there are over 100 sections, which each contain extensive plantings of a single species. The Arboretum’s plantings focus on threatened, rare, and symbolic trees from around the world.
View of National Arboretum site on a hot sunny day
Image: View from Dairy Farmers Hill, 2018 by Jim Hoffman

I drew the Arboretum’s excellent Village Centre and Margaret Whitlam Pavilion in my artwork. And, although the scene is drawn at sunrise, I drew a large crowd of people flying kites near the amphitheatre.
Cartoon kites flying above green grassy hillside

Adding details: future-proofing the artwork

I decided to future-proof the artwork somewhat by drawing the trees of the Arboretum with an extra 20 or 30 years of growth. The National Arboretum was opened in 2013, with most trees having been planted in the years immediately before that date. Thus, the trees currently are small in size, and sparsely-spaced.
Comparison of Canberra arboretum sparse plantings versus mature trees grown imagination
Top image: by Thennicke

I used the Arboretum’s species map, along with online image searches of the various species, to imagine what the trees will look like when they are more mature. For example, the pink blossoming trees in the foreground are Mediterranean Redbud.
Pink trees: Mediterranean Redbud in blossom

Postcards, greeting cards, art prints

Greeting card: Australian Magpie at the National Arboretum Canberra

Support my work by buying this artwork as a postcard, greeting card or signed and numbered art print from my online store.
Visit the Australian magpie at the National Arboretum Canberra product range category, or use the following links for these items on my web store:

Cartoon magpie flying over Canberra arboretum in the sunshine