Nicole Godwin

Susannah Crispe

CSIRO Publishing, 2022 

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99


Father Magpie has just one job – and it is one that he takes very seriously and does diligently.  And that job is to protect the eggs that Mother Magpie is sitting on.  Every person who passes near the nest is seen as a potential robber and thus he swoops them, just to let them know they are trespassing on precious territory,  Regardless of any protection or disguises they might employ, he is on patrol… Until some ignorant boys think that they know better…

Coupled with explanatory notes at the end and thorough teaching ideas which cover science, English, ethics and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, this is a book that must be shared with every young student so they understand why magpies swoop, and that they are just like human parents in their desire to keep their babies safe.  By telling the story from Father Magpie’s perspective, young readers learn to understand and empathise with this annual phenomenon (which is happening now) and help them realise that there is a reason behind the behaviour,  that it is only for a short time and that animals must be allowed to do what comes naturally, even if it impinges on the lives of humans. They might also learn that magpies are smart, they recognise familiar, friendly faces on their territory and that they are very family-oriented, raising their young right through until the next nesting season.  

One of our greatest joys is watching our Mother and Father Magpie through the seasons, greeted with a beautiful chorus whenever we put scrap food out. particularly in winter when natural food is scarce here, and knowing they know that neither we nor our elderly dog are threats so we can go outside without fear. 

It seems amazing that it has taken so long for such a book to be written about such a common occurrence, but now it has we have a duty to share it. 

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