Lifestyle Pets Australian Magpie Mimics Siren as Firefighters Continue to Battle Australia's Wildfires Experts estimate the wildfires currently burning through southern Australia have killed over half a billion animal By Kelli Bender Kelli Bender Kelli Bender is the Pets Editor for PEOPLE Digital and PEOPLE magazine. She has been with the PEOPLE brand for more than eight years, working as a writer/producer across PEOPLE's Lifestyle, Features, and Entertainment verticals before taking on her current role. Kelli is also an editor on PEOPLE's Stories to Make You Smile and serves as an editorial lead on PEOPLE's World's Cutest Rescue Dog Contest and Pet Product Awards. Before joining PEOPLE, Kelli helped AOL and Whalerock launch a pet lifestyle site called PawNation. She is a pet parent to a cat named Wallace, and her professional and personal devotion to animals has taken her to three dog weddings ... so far. People Editorial Guidelines Published on January 3, 2020 03:35 PM Share Tweet Pin Email Australian magpies, a species unrelated to the other magpies found throughout the world, have one of the world’s most complex birdsongs, according to the Australian Museum, and are adept at mimicking many of the noises around them, including the calls of other birds and animals. Unfortunately, the magpies of New South Wales, Australia, have been picking up a new sound: fire sirens. More than 130 bushfires are currently burning through southeast Australia, claiming the lives of thousands of animals and destroying millions of acres of land. First responders are working to stop the disaster from progressing, and are helping as many as animals as they can along the way, so the sounds of fire sirens are common in this part of the country. Common enough that one Australian magpie heard the sound of a fire engine and was able to expertly sing the same siren sound back. Half a Billion Animals, Including 8,000 Koalas, Feared Dead from Devastating Australian Wildfires According to CNN, former threatened species commissioner Gregory Andrews was able to capture the bird’s literal siren song on camera and posted the clip to Australian Native Birds Facebook group. “OK this is one of the coolest things ever. Today I met an Australian magpie in Newcastle NSW which had learned to sing the calls of fire-engines and ambulances,” Andrews wrote along with the video, which now has over 2,800 shares. RELATED VIDEO: Firefighter Gives Koala A Drink While Fires Continue to Rage in South Australia Tuesday was deemed the deadliest day of the fire crisis so far, which has claimed the lives of at least 17 humans and an estimated 480 million total mammals, birds and reptiles since September, news.com.au reports. Experts believe that over 8,000 koalas have died in the fires, that is one-third of the region’s koala population. This is an especially devastating blow since koalas were declared “functionally extinct” last year before the fires began. In an effort to protect and koalas and other animals from additional dangers, Stand Up for Nature, an alliance of 13 organizations, and nonprofit wildlife conservation organization, has called for an immediate and temporary halt on logging of native forests. Father and Son Found Dead as Brush Fires Spread in Australia: It’s ‘Very Tragic’ “The impact on many species has been extreme and is ongoing. The full scale of wildlife losses will probably never be known, but they will surely number in the millions,” a letter from Stand up for Nature to New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian reads, according to news.com.au. “The effects of the catastrophic fires have been so far-reaching that allowing further loss of habitat and impact on native species would be unconscionable.” Unfortunately, with winds and high temperatures predicted in southeast Australia’s weekend forecast, officials are warning of worsening conditions and are mandating that those in affected areas evacuate immediately.