The Bird Emblem of South Australia
The Piping Shrike, or white backed magpie (Gymnorhina tibicen leuconota) is the South Australian bird emblem. Present in virtually every backyard, park and street in South Australia, this irrepressible bird was ready made. The State's symbol of resourcefulness and bravery. Easily recognisable by its strong black and white colouring, the Shrike also has a sweet, melodious song.
The natural habitat of the Shrike is open woodland, although the birds have adapted well to urban and agricultural living, and they feed on insects - including many harmful pests - lizards and carrion. They build cup-shaped nests in trees or bushes and lay three to five greenish-blue or reddish-grey eggs between August and October. Fearless in defending her nest and young, the female shrike is well-known for swooping and diving at potential intruders during the nesting season.
In 1901, Governor Tennyson in his despatch to the Secretary of State for the Colonies said "I herewith forward a flag with the new device upon it - the South Australian Shrike in the rising sun of the Commonwealth, and hope that as it is a fine design and one which has been favourably received here."This symbol represents South Australia today and is used by many Government agencies and departments as a corporate logo.