Our Jackeroo Magpies.
Mr. A. Meston writes: Sir, There are no magpies in Queensland, black, or white or any other colour. Our black and white friend with the splendid voice is really a crow, and the so-called "scrub magpie" is the pied crow shrike. There is an interesting fact to record of this crow shrike, usually known to bushmen as the "currawac", which was a name common among the blacks from Sydney to Cooktown. From the Richmond River
to the Mary River, this bird was called "jackeroo," the real origin of the word now applied to a new chum on a station. The "currawac" is a very noisy and garrulous bird, and the blacks called any
loud-voiced person a "jackeroo" (correctly "tchackeroo"). The Moreton Bay blacks called the German missionaries at Eagle Farm in 1838 "jackeroos," because they were always talking. Gradually
it was used to denote all white men,
and finally, for some unknown reason, it was confined to the new chum on a station. In the Cairns district, on the Russell and Mulgrave, this bird was "jowa-jowa," from jowa, the mouth, literally "all mouth," or an incessant gabbler, so the same name suggested itself over many tribes and dialects, Jackeroo at Moreton Bay had the same meaning, but mouth was "cahm" from Brisbane to the Boyne River, and west to the Bunya Mountains. It may be spelled cahm or kahm. The word "currrawac" is taken from one of the most common calls of the bird, which is one of the most valuable insect eaters we possess in Queensland. In my boyhood
days these birds followed the plough, or the harrow, or the spiked roller, in hundreds, and no grub or worm escaped them. Mr Tryon is quite correct in his eulogy of the harmless currawac as a destroyer of insects. The people who want this bird murdered to make some foolish shire council holiday ought to be starved until they could eat raw currawac, and they would acquire a rich flavour easily detected at a distance of half a mile. Wc generally knew the currawacs were
coming the day before they arrived. Our sense of smell was very keen in those days. One of the notes of the bird closely resembles the natural, long, musical, somewhat melancholy whistle of the lyre bird, which imitates all the calls of the currawac in great perfection. Has no one discovered that the willy wagtail carries prickly pear seeds on his tail, and scatters them broadcast, and that he ought to bo dcstroycd?