Magpies through European eyes

This morning I was prompted to think about magpies.

The Australian magpie is a member of the butcherbird family and is distinctly different to the Eurasian magpie, which is a member of the crow family.

Australian magpies got called a magpie because a European saw their black and white markings and thought they looked like a bird they knew from another country. Wikipedia discusses their taxonomy.

There are many Aboriginal names for magpies, as a result of there being many Aboriginal languages. So it occurred to me that the fact we call a local bird by the name of a bird from the other side of the world is a result of colonialism.

It's interesting to look at art made by early Europeans in Australia and see how they drew gum trees that look more like European trees. It's a bit funny the way they represent the landscape in a manner of another landscape.

They painted the Australian landscape and made the scenery like that of Europe. The Trees don’t look Australian and the natives presented clothed.

It seems to me that the naming of a local type of bird by the name of another type of bird illustrates how this quaint misrepresentation continues. The use of language demonstrates that Australians still see their country through European eyes.