Magpies Keep Our Yard Safe From Snakes
Magpies keep our yard safe from snakes. Most people know about the Kookaburras catching snakes and keeping their numbers under control in the bush. But fewer people know about the roles played by magpies and butcherbirds.
Billy the young magpie first brought this to my attention. I was at my desk typing away, while Billy was sitting on the fence opposite the window hoping I would go out and feed him. Billy is a bird with a one track mind and a bottomless stomach. Not wishing to indulge him, I was studiously ignoring his pleas. Suddenly, he jumped off the fence and squawked at something on the ground. He got back on the fence turned his back towards me and kept squawking at this thing and then followed it along the fence. The noisy miners and Eddy and Freddy the young butcherbirds also joined him. The butcherbirds were hovering in the air like mini-helicopters while making an awful gargling type sound, while the miners gathered on the fence screeching. Billy got off the fence and chased the snake from behind with the butcher keeping up the attack from top. I saw a snake slide its way through the plants under the fence and the birds chased till it was way down the hill.
I developed a much healthier respect for Billy from that day on. Since then, there have been many occasions when I have seen the magpies and butcherbirds chase the snakes out of our yard. They have warned us when the snakes are up in a tree.
Many a time my life would have been in danger had the magpies, butcherbirds and noisy miners not come forth to warn me and even more significantly chased the snake away from me. To see a slideshow of one of these occasions click here.
My recommendation to all folks living in Australia is to really love and respect the birds in their backyard. They do a lot more for us than we can ever imagine.