We investigated whether the plumage patterns of the Australian Magpie Cracticus tibicen, a medium-sized, black and white bird, common over most of mainland Australia and Tasmania, including cities and towns, were sufficiently different and distinctive to allow humans to identify individual birds. Eighty participants took part in our pattern matching experiment to see how many of 10 photographs of individual birds they placed correctly below a panel showing 20 individual birds, each illustrated with three different photographs. Participants were from a range of ages, although the majority were high school students. All but two successfully matched some of the birds but there were considerable differences in accuracy and speed of performance. We tested differences in accuracy and time taken by participant, gender, age, and whether testing alone or testing at the same time as four other participants. We concluded that it is possible for humans to recognise individual Australian Magpies based on the birds’ plumage.

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