The State of the Magpies (Part 4)

I've told you about our magpies, grey and pied butcherbirds, and the noisy miners. They are really the core of Maggie's circle, but they have lots of other friends.

They get on well with the currawongs for a start, but the curries are migratory, so we don't get quite so close with them as the rest. There are some here more or less all year, but different birds. They ones that have been around the past few months know us quite well and come to the clothes line in the yard and say hello. Others at other times are more timid, and some don't seem to know that there's a feed to be had with those humans there.

The crows are good friends but they are scared of us because we shoo them until all the smaller birds have eaten, otherwise they would push everyone else out. But they do know we are bird-friendly and they seem to have a special relationship with Gitie. She talks to them and they seem to get the idea straight away. They are very very clever birds!

Maggie has many other friends who are not confident enough to routinely front up to us. We saw two rosellas minding Vicky's nest for a few hours last year, for example. Also last year, Vicky minded a juvenile currawong for about a week: it followed her everywhere, obviously with her approval. So they all make various deals and tradeoffs with each other. It is a much richer society than scientists tell us.

Gitie has recently encouraged a young kookaburra to say hello a few times and pose for photos. Maggie knows them well, but they have not tended to come really close to us, probably because we don't put out any meat. (Maggie and gang like grated cheese and bread.) This is quite interesting, because other friends find that the kookies readily come down close while the maggies stay aloof. One friend finds that the local kookaburra comes down whenever he gets out the lawnmower, and hops along a few feet in front of the roaring machine catching whatever flies out. I always thought they went for bigger food, but I suppose they get whatever is going easily!


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