#30DaysWild 10: Magpie laugh

Day 10 of 30 Days Wild and I’m laughing at the magpies…

Some loathe magpies, but they make me laugh. This week especially. We have been watching young magpies learn to be proper grown up magpies. Their lessons aren’t textbook, shadowing affairs like the blackbirds that I wrote about last week. They are far more haphazard with both parent/teacher and juvenile/student seeming to get bored half way through and going off to do their own thing instead.

This means the young magpies are left to ‘FOFO’ (f*** off and find out). First up one decided to find out if a tiny raw potato discarded on our lawn was edible. This took several minutes as the bird lifted the potato and carried it around in its beak, stopping to examine it at each new location. As if taking it to a new spot might make it into something better.

Another must have been taken by the pretty marigolds growing near the fence. I didn’t witness the plucking of the flower head, just the re-lifting and wandering to see if taking it somewhere made it any more edible. Next a lump of wood, from a small pile of dead wood left there for insects, was inspected and tested. Sophisticated methods were employed, as

A magpie with something edible

the young ‘pie flew up to the bird bath and dunked the wood before holding it firm with one foot and tearing into it with its beak. Still the darned thing wouldn’t yield. (“It’s a piece of wood dummy! Give up!”). An old flower bulb was pecked and pummelled – before being rejected.

“Where is all the food in this garden?!” The baby ‘pies must be thinking. Ok, they mustn’t be thinking that. That’s just me anthropomorphising them. But where IS all the food. This is the real FOFO lesson. Their parent ate pretty much all of it. At least, s/he had all the dried worms I’d put on the lawn for omnivorous avian visitors. Having dunked them in the bird bath to soften them up first (someone was watching!), they were gobbled up before s/he flew away – with barely a nod to the offspring.

So, the lessons are: There’s a pecking order and it’s every ‘pie for itself. I wonder how quickly these juvenile magpies will learn?

Pic credit: ‘Lunch’ by Stewart Black is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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