Our queen Vicky magpie has been free of flu symptoms for a week now, so we are cautiously optimistic that she has beaten the illness that took our pied butcherbirds Gerry and Teddles. But the visits to the nest seem to have been a false alarm; no one has been sitting on any eggs this week as far as we can tell. So we took a walk up the road yesterday and asked our magpies what's up this year.
The new family (Vicky and adult daughter Mindy, and the new fellow, Bertie) flew down to say hello. We asked Vicky about her nest. She immediately flew into the tree where her nest is located. Now the story about this nest is that Vicky and Maggie purchased the tree from a crow two years ago, giving the crow Vicky's old nest and rights for taking food from them for the following year. The tree actualy contained two crows' nests, so it may be that Vicky is planning to use the second nest this year.
Then we asked Mindy if she is making a nest. To our surprise she flew straight back to Vicky's old nest, which she had earlier given the crow. So it appears that the family have repurchased the nest from the crows. We'll see what they have to do for the crows in return as time goes by.
Minnie the noisy miner also flew up to us, so we asked her about her nest. She showed us a tiny clump in the leaves, so well hidden it was almost impossible to see even when looking directly at it. It is amazing how much is going on around us that we normally just don't get to see.
Our friends tell us that their magpies already have babies, so our family is well behind the timetable, but bearing in mind Maggie's passing, Vicky's efforts to find a new mate, and then her illness, we are all very happy that the family is still intact and happy.
Lastly Vicky's adult son Monty - I am not sure that Monty is still around, having fallen out with new beau Bertie. A collection of birds is giving the family some hassles, but they seem to be mainly composed of our neighbour's magpie Billy's kids and some birds from across the gully. Monty may be one of them though, but he is hard to 'pick' unless he lands on the ground. It is the magpie way for the sons to leave home and make their way in the world, so we are hoping Monty is doing well somewhere, as our darling Maggie's only male offspring.