Cheeky the magpie sings along with ukulele class

One-year-old Cheeky
One-year-old Cheeky

Hungry Head ukulele teacher Vanessa Nugent has a star pupil, a young magpie she's christened Cheeky.

A video of Cheeky singing along with the The Hungry Head Ukulele Group has gone viral after it was picked up by Macca's Australia All Over program and the ABC in Sydney. There's even been an inquiry from a journalist in New York.

Here she is helping the uke class with their C scale practice:

Vanessa and her husband Mark have been living on their one-acre bush block near Urunga for 18 years and have always encouraged visits from the local wildlife. They've befriended successive generations of magpies in that time, giving carefully selected titbits as treats now and then but not feeding them on a regular basis.

Cheeky, who Vanessa thinks is female, was born last season and has a particularly outgoing nature.

"I haven't tamed her as such, other than just by sitting and talking to her," Vanessa said. "And being really still around her."

She's a real character. I sit out the back and play the ukulele and she comes and warbles away while I play.

Vanessa Nugent

Vanessa said Cheeky waits for her to start before joining in.

"She'll come and stand beside me and wait patiently, and as soon as I start playing she'll start warbling. So she is aware that she's accompanying me with her singing."

The juvenile magpie has only been doing this for about a fortnight, but at the last gathering of Vanessa's uke students she popped in to show off her skill as a soloist.

"I said to them all when they got here on Thursday, hopefully Cheeky will come and join us. And sure enough she came in so I quickly turned the video on."

Cheeky also enjoys playing chase with the family dog and taps on the kitchen window when Vanessa is cooking dinner to hint that she wouldn't mind a little something as well if it's on offer.

"But I try not to feed her all the time because I know it's not good for them," Vanessa said.

Have a listen to Cheeky carolling as Vanessa plays 'Stairway to Heaven'.

This story Cheeky the magpie sings along with ukulele class first appeared on The Bellingen Shire Courier Sun.