The Australian Magpie is black and white, but the plumage pattern varies across its range. Its nape, upper tail and shoulder are white in males, grey in females. Across most of Australia, the remainder of the body is black. In the south-east, centre, extreme south-west and Tasmania, the back and rump are entirely white. The eye of adult birds is chestnut brown.
The Magpie is renowned for its loud musical flute-like song, a warbling sound often performed as a duet or by groups. Australian Magpies are common and conspicuous birds, found wherever there is a combination of trees and adjacent open areas, including parks and playing fields. They are absent only from the densest forests and arid deserts. Groups of up to 24 birds live year round in territories that are actively defended by all members of the group. The group depends on this territory for all their feeding, roosting and nesting requirements.
The Australian Magpie walks along the ground searching for insects and their larvae. Birds will also take handouts from humans and will often venture into open houses to beg for food.
Although the Australian Magpie is generally quite tame, during the breeding season some individuals become aggressive towards any intruders, including humans, that venture too close to their nest sites.