Day 251 of 366: Blog Challenge

Hello all

Mr Magpie approached me on Tuesday when I was sitting outside having lunch. I watched him carefully because magpies can become very aggressive here in Brisbane at this time of year if they have young ones.

I’m still not sure what he wanted from me, perhaps he was after a few crumbs that fell from my lunch but I didn’t wait to find out. As he inched ever closer to me with a menacing look, I picked up my lunch and fled! Since then, I have watched Mr. Magpie as he fossicked in our yard for grubs and anything else he can find.

There is often a full house like this one …

As I have been savouring nature whilst I have been recovering from this flu I kept an eye on him and so for the past few days he has diligently and industriously gone about his business gathering food. Geoff and I decided he was a male and that he was providing food for Mrs Magpie who would be sitting on her eggs in a nest nearby.

And so as I watch Mr. Magpie searching for food, I am keeping my eye out for the position of the nest that may be housing the little magpies about to hatch. This then led to some research in which I found out that magpies live in families and are highly interesting birds:

“Magpies live in groups with a strict hierarchy setup of a dominate male 2 to 3 females and any number of young up to about 20 individuals.

Females incubate and rear their young unaided to the fledgling stage (24 days approx) During this time the nest is defended by the Male, and if the threat is perceived to be very serious the female will leave the nest to help deter the “threat”

Once the young have left the nest all members of the group help in educating, protecting, and caring for them. Fathers show the young how to forage for food.”

As Geoff and I discussed the magpie situation over afternoon tea, I asked Geoff if he remembered watching a magpie family when we were travelling near Canberra in 2004. His eyes glazed over : “What, remember something that happened with magpies  in 2004??” Translate this to mean: “Are you crazy? Who would remember that?”

Well ME of course.Tess of the numerous diaries and good memory for useless information’ would remember such a thing. And to prove it, I went and found the appropriate Journal marked “Trip to Melbourne and Canberra” and within a minute, come up with the appropriate page.

Geoff shook his head in disbelief! Sometimes he despairs of being married to a crazed writer like myself but then again … I CAN cook rather well and he hangs around for that if nothing else! Here is the entry from my Journal:

“Stopped for morning tea at Yass near Canberra at a lovely park called ‘ Banjo Patterson Park’. As we sipped our tea, we watched a magpie family. Mum was trying to find grubs and whatever else she could find, for Junior who was following her and whingeing because food wasn’t coming fast enough.

It was so close to human behaviour! The kid whining and Mum telling her to shut up. On and on went Junior … and Mum was not impressed. Dad, would you believe, was off in the distance, strutting around like a proud peacock while Mum gathered the food and kept an eye on Junior.  Yes, just like humans …”

I wonder now if I was wrong about Mum being the one gathering food as my research above, says that the fathers do it? Geoff assured me at the time that it was the mother with Junior and he knows a lot about birds so I’ll stick to that!

Can’t you tell how I love watching birds? I love the fact that they play out their lives in front of our very eyes and we can learn so much from watching them too. All the things I have been discussing this week – like patience and perseverance – in their search for food and their faithfulness to raising their young. They are so diligent fulfilling their role in life with utmost care.

So I love this time of year in our garden watching the birds. I have such vivid memories of the last two or three springs since I retired. It has become a custom now:

We count the number of nests up in our trees as we have an abundance of tall trees ideal for nesting. Mr Magpie hunts for food.

And then at a later date we can hear the babies chirping for food as Dad goes on the daily hunt to feed them.  The bigger the baby birds grow the more insistent become their cries. Some days, we want to shout out “Alright, alright, enough already … the food is coming!”

This continues on and then one day we realise that all is silent and we watch as the babies, now grown,  are beginning to hunt for their own food. Or, as we have seen on some occasions, a baby has fallen out of the nest and Mother Magpie cannot seem to get it back.

We watch in horror wondering how we can help rescue it, even putting it in a protected place to make it easier. We come back later, and the bird is gone and we have no idea what has happened to it.

Oh folks, it is a wonderful front row seat to the circle of life in the bird kingdom. Talk about ‘A Sense of Wonder’ as you watch all this unfold before your very eyes. I am looking forward now to the season about to begin. Dear friends, take the time in the spring to watch and wonder …