Saturday, June 25, 2011
Even though Magpies have a bit of a reputation for being the bullies of the bird world, I happen to be very fond of these striking black and white birds. I think they are funny, clever and great survivors. In fact, some sources say they are one of the most clever of the bird world.
The back garden not only has become a dinner table for them, but it's also their playground. And incredibly, Magpies are amazingly playful and social. It's not unusual to watch the teen-agers play tag or engage in other bird games. They also like a bit of tail pulling when a parent is relaxing and sunning on the lawn.
In the corner of the lawn is a gingerbread style Wendy house, and the Magpies have decided this is their place. One of the most touching scenes I've seen was when all five were hanging around the Wendy house, and the male adult was spreading his wings in the sun, and mom came over and cuddled right into him to sun her wings (see the photo above). They are also clever enough to get out of a heavy rain, and I have spied the family sheltering under the eaves of the Wendy house. Yesterday, a large fragment of a suet ball had fallen from the feeder, and a Magpie ran over and grabbed it off the ground. It then proceeded to stuff the ball under the floor of the Wendy house so it could come back and eat it later.
Magpies are large and visible, so it is easy to watch this family of five develop and interact. They take great care as parents to teach and socialize their offspring. I don't know how long it will be before the teen-agers pack up and 'leave home' to set up their own forested household, but this family has been a real treat to watch.