Saturday, 9 July 2011

Crow Talk: the Scapegoat Magpie

The other day I am looking out of my window and watch a pair of magpies searching for food on the driveway verge.

I know that magpies are unpopular. In particular, the notion of their "robbing" nests I think gives them much bad press.

Truth is - plenty of creatures rob nests... weasels, rats, owls, crows, squirrels, small boys. It's a survival thing. Well maybe not, in the case of small boys.

But I find the crow family fascinating. And that includes the eccentric magpie. Remember I posted one time about watching a magpie creep up and pull a fox's tail?

And on the subject of bad behaviour... Those who watch nature documentaries are shocked by watching wholesale nestling massacre performed "en famille" by the new "father". He intends that all successful offspring shall be his alone.

And then there's that herald of spring... the cuckoo. Now that's one nasty childhood trait. Heave the native nestlings out the nest and take up all the resources for yourself.

I suspect that crows are unpopular precisely for their intelligence and opportunism. Bit like humans.

I come to this conclusion as I watch the two magpies hunt. Both birds adopt a quick and successful method. They jump into the grass and watch where the leaping grasshoppers fly. If it's the wrong way - onto the concrete drive .... Hopla! Lunch.

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