Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Magpie's Perspective

Our feathered friends frequently appear as photographic subjects. I live in an area of Sydney where we are still privileged to hear the melodic trill of magpies. Magpies seem to have a poor reputation due to their vigilant parental supervision. During the nesting season they may dive bomb those who venture close to their nest. While I admit this could be a terrifying experience for old and young alike, the motivation is pure - they are protecting their own in the only way they know how. Strategies such as carrying an umbrella usually deal effectively with this threat.
There is a charming online story which documents a typical experience. Make sure you don't clickon the underlined links but the text beneath the illustrations (not sure why, but it is as it is)
My appreciation of these dedicated parents began when a group of them began to visit my backyard. They appeared curious, more shy than aggressive and gradually learnt to trust us as we fed them little snacks. They would wait outside and knock on the window to inform us of their presence.
One particular maggie I affectionately named Alexander as he appeared braver and more dominant. He responded to my calls and would follow me into the kitchen if the door was left open. On one occasion he even jumped onto my lap to grab a piece of minced meat. We created names for each of the group and watched as different ones came and went and as they raised each new batch of chicks. Alexander still occasionally flew in to visit and established his leadership over whichever maggies were resident at this time, always scuttling over to me for a little treat. He fluffed up his feathers, spread hi swings slightly and sauntered amongst them, charging at any who dared to come close to me. At no time did any of them ever show any aggression to us.
The time came to move house and it was with a twinge of sadness I said goodbye to my little friends, who by this stage had dwindled to a pair who had remained with us for 2 years. Each time I drive by the old street and see a magpie I wonder if it is Alexander come again to visit, the one who taught me to love these birds. Alexander changed my perspective. I hope you are still flying free little buddy.

To read further about magpies

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