Tuesday, January 17, 2017

We Had a Visitor

As I was closing up the house around sunset yesterday evening I was greeted by a young magpie - or more accurately a young, very loudly begging magpie. It was sitting on the back of a chair on the veranda - and it was certain that I was a source of food. Nope. I don't feed magpies for a number of reasons although those living near us are delightful creatures, friendly and living and letting live. Not everyone is so lucky in their resident birds. Magpies have a well-earned reputation for launching attacks on unwary passersby during nesting season - and they can inflict a fair amount of damage - but fortunately it's not all of them. Most just go about their business and the clan that nests in the park behind us generally take no notice of us, just hunting for goodies like caterpillars in our gardens and pretty much ignoring us otherwise. Every time a new family moves in to our area there's few weeks of breath holding and finger crossing while we wait to see if they - by which I mainly mean the children - and the magpies will get along but so far all has been well.

Magpies are very intelligent birds and testing has shown they can distinguish between different people. Even those that attack are very selective as to who they launch at and will leave one person alone while attacking another. It's suspected that they are only targeting those who have harmed them or who resemble those who have harmed them in the past and since no one has so far interfered with our resident clan they have no interest in attacking any of us.

As I said I don't feed them for a number of reasons. It's illegal for one thing but also feeding them meat can cause nutrition problems and they can become dependent on hand outs. This little fellow has obviously learned that people will feed him and when his parents said 'Enough. It's time to leave home and fend for yourself' it thought it would go begging instead of foraging.

When I woke up this morning I could hear it begging loudly and this is what I found yelling loudly when I opened up the curtains.

It looked somewhat scruffy and bedraggled so I went out to check it for injury. Turns out it was still losing its baby fluff and it could certainly fly well enough to take off and land on my neighbour's roof at one point so it was fine. It kept yelling as it followed me around as I went out to pick some vegetables in the veggie patch, while I checked the pots on the patio and watered those in need and whenever I went inside it stood at the door and yelled even more. In its opinion it was hungry so someone should do something about it.

Three hours later it was still yelling and I was beginning to see why its parents thought it was past time for it to be independent. I decided that I'd see just how hungry it was and moved some of the pots out on the patio uncovering slaters, crickets and other assorted small beasties. It took a few moments before it caught on, but from then it gobbled them up with assorted squawks in between. Finally it quietened, grateful for the snack perhaps, and after a few more half hearted attempts at coaxing food from me - the two very ripe strawberries which had been attacked by something overnight did raise its hopes briefly when I picked them to throw away - it gave up and flew off back to the park.

And at last we had glorious silence. Long may it last.


Jo said...

How funny. It surely does look scraggy in your picture. Glad it flew off eventually, I do hope it won't come back.

Helen V. said...

It was very determined, Jo, but so far it hasn't come back.