Nature & Wildlife

butcherbird

Australia’s Favourite Animal Sound is voted the magpie

Magpie swoops top spot in poll to find Australia’s Favourite Animal Sound

Did you ‘call it’? Or do the results ruffle your feathers?

The magpie’s warbling has won over the nation, taking out number one in ABC’s search for Australia’s Favourite animal sound. The call of the magpie was a clear winner, attracting over a staggering 36% of the votes in the final round.

magpie

“The magpie’s warble is part of almost every soundscape in Australia,” says Dr Dominique Potvin, a behavioural ecologist and senior lecturer in Animal Ecology at the University of the Sunshine Coast. “Its song has regional dialects, developed through learning from older generations. So it’s an ancient song, but it keeps evolving. Magpies come together to sing these melodies in a duet or chorus by family groups, letting others know the territory they occupy,” says Dominique.

The kookaburra’s ‘laugh’ landed in second place, followed by the melodic and maniacal call of the butcherbird, voted in third.

kookaburra

“Like the magpie, kookaburras come together, all calling at once in what can become an overwhelming cacophony, just to establish and maintain the borders of their territory,” says Dominique.

“There really is no other bird sound like it in the world, and it comes from a generally very quiet bird group – the kingfishers – making it a very special call in many ways.”

“It’s sad to know that kookaburras are declining in some areas. So we are losing this sound in many places due to development and habitat loss.”

The only two non-birds in top 10 were the banjo frog at 7th place and the cicada at 10th.

“For many of us, particular animal sounds remind us of special places, people or experiences,” says Associate Professor Jen Martin from the University of Melbourne. “For me, the fabulous call of the pobblebonk or banjo frog takes me back to happy childhood memories with my Dad, so I’m thrilled my favourite ‘under-frog’ of the competition made it into the top 10,” says Jen.

“This poll has been a great reminder that wherever you live in Australia, there are wonderful calls around you – we just need to take a moment to stop, listen and enjoy,” says Jen.

The poll opened on 31 July, attracting over 150,000 votes in total. To hear the winning sounds, visit www.abc.net.au/sounds

Australia’s Favourite Animal Sound is the online project for National Science Week 2023, undertaken by ABC Science with funding through the Australian Government’s Inspiring Australia strategy.

Download top 10 animal sounds audio here

Australia’s Favourite Animal Sound results in order of popularity
1. Magpie (Gymnorhina tibicenhas): melodious carolling
2. Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae): “koo-koo-koo-koo-koo-kaa-kaa-kaa”
3. Butcherbird (Cracticus torquatus and Cracticus nigrogularis): melodic and maniacal
4. Whipbird (Psophodes olivaceus): whipcrack followed by “choo-choo”
5. Lyre bird (Menura novaehollandiae): a famous mimic
6. Black cockatoo (Zanda funerea): “kee-ow”
7. Banjo frog or ‘pobblebonk’ (Limnodynastes species): “bonk bonk””
8. Boobook/Guurrguurr (Ninox boobook and Ninox leucopsis): “book book”
9. Fairywren (Malurus species): high tinkering trills
10. Cicadas (superfamily Cicadoidea): “screeeeee
11. Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae): squeals, whistles, rumbles
12. Bush stone-curlew (Burhinus grallarius): “weer-lo”
13. Barking owl/Muurrguu (Ninox connivens): “woof woof”
14. Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus): grunts and bellows
15. Green tree frog (Litoria caerulea): “crawk-crawk-crawk”
16. Galah (Eolophus roseicapilla): “chi chi”
17. Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii): “raaaach”
18. Raven (Corvus coronoides): “ah-ah-ah-aaaah”
19. Gang-gang cockatoo (Callocephalon fimbriatu): “creak creak”
20. Sulphur-crested cockatoo (Cacatua galerita): “raa-aach”
21. Koel (Eudynamys orientalis): “koo-el”
22. Dingo (Canis familiaris): “oh-ooll”
23. Moaning frog (Heleioporus eyrei): “ooohhhugh”
24. Sugar glider (Petaurus breviceps): “yap, yap”
25. Flying fox (Pteropus species): squeeling, squabbling and cackling
26. Possum (brushtail) (Trichosurus vulpecula): grunts and screeches
27. Yellow-bellied glider (Petaurus australi): shrieks and gurgles
28. Possum (ringtail) (Pseudocheirus peregrinus): squeeky chirrups