Paying our friends a visit
It's been hard this week to go bush and visit our bird friends. Last, I think it was Monday, Gitie was driving home and she saw baby Josie magpie walking all alone along the road. She called for Maggie and told him that she was very worried that a car might hit Josie. Well, immediately, he took her way off into the bush well away from traffic. But then there were two days of cold, continuous rain, and we didn't hear Josie even in the distance after that. So this morning we specially wanted to see if we could find her.
Unfortunately, the news seems bad. Maggie showed us where everyone was, and there was no sign of little Josie anywhere. But he flew up into another tree and showed us Vicky sitting on a nest, meaning she has laid another clutch of eggs. So it seems poor Josie perished from rain and cold anyway. But we'll keep hoping in case she is still there hidden somewhere.
While we were over there, Larry the grey butcherbird, who I mentioned earlier, and who has trouble visiting our yard, called us loudly. He had shown us his nest last time we made an expedition, so we knew where to go this time. Just as well, because when we arrived, Larry himself was busy chasing away a galah and some other birds, which disappeared along with Larry into the thick scrub before I could get a good look at them. But Harrie was on her nest, and she climbed high out of it to show me clearly that she was there, then she settled down contentedly again. Their nest is well hidden and protected from wind, although not from rain. For some reason we can't account, all our birds make nests that are open to the sky, so mum has to sit on it just to keep excessive sun and rain off. It seems very odd. Perhaps it is because the branches are weaker, and so the goanna can't climb there?
The thing I want to stress, and which is hard to explain, is the completeness of each animal just as it is. I think we tend to think of animals as some sort of incomplete human: can't talk, not intelligent, can't make tools, and so on. But the truth is they are complete, well-rounded individuals just as they are, with loves, freindships, all sorts of social understandings like property ownership, paying friends a visit, showing off the babies, and so on. Larry and Vicky especially go out of their way to demonstrate time and time again that they don't care just for getting food, and they value our friendship simply for that. Today, for example, none of them came for food when we went to visit but they all showed us what they were up to and how they were dealing with the problems this season. My good friend and respected Australian author Brian Taylor called up last night and told us he saw a galah using a twig to sweep seed husks off of a shelf where he puts birdseed for them, so as to keep it clean. Incredible! Brian has written a beautiful account of one of his encounters long ago in the old Australian bush, long before digital cameras and telephoto lenses and whatnot, for our inaugural edition of the Wild Bird Talking e-zine, so make sure you have registered to receive it in the address box in the left column.