Did you know that the magpie is Australia’s favourite bird? Known to many as a familiar friend, that doting black and white songbird can become a bit of a nightmare during the breeding season. Pedestrians and cyclists, alike, can be subject to terrifying aerial assaults as magpies seek to protect their young.

But it’s a little unfair to associate all magpies with such anti-social behaviour. Only between 8 and 10 per cent act in this way. Most magpies are good citizens. They are considered to be a most intelligent, charming bird with the ability to recognise human faces.

Occupying the same territory for their entire life (which can be up to 20 years) magpies know all the people living on their patch. This is good news if you are liked. But magpies are known to hold grudges. Life can become unpleasant if they get it in for you!

The month of August marks the beginning of the magpie breeding season. Over the past few years the church yard here in West Epping has been a hive of activity as a magpie couple (who are believed to mate for life) manage to produce noisy offspring.

Magpies are found almost everywhere in Australia. Their popularity and their familiarity has prompted the naming of significant sporting teams with the famous Collingwood “Magpies” in Melbourne and the Wests “Magpies” here in Sydney.

No sporting field or suburban oval would be complete without the presence of a friendly magpie.

But like so many native species, magpies are in decline in some parts of Australia. On the east coast numbers are said to have gone down more than 30 per cent since 1998.

Competition from a growing number of aggressive species including corvids, currawongs and noisy minors together with the degradation and depletion of habitat are contributing to this.

As the winter months begin to wane and as hints of spring start to appear, remember that we share God’s creation with all sorts of creatures. All of us have a right and a place to be here.

However, rapid development in the Carlingford-Epping region makes we wonder. What is the future of our most valued flora and fauna? And what will happen to the magpie? Who is the real aggressor here?

Surely we must maintain a deep appreciation, a high regard and a great respect for God’s marvellous creation? It’s so vital that we do so.

Rev John Barr