Magpie matters

To: John Layton <>
Subject: Magpie matters
From: Beth Mantle <>
Date: Mon, 24 Mar 2008 13:20:50 +1100
I don't know for a fact but I have a hypothesis because the magpies around our house seem to be behaving in a similar fashion.  Is it time for all the juveniles to leave and find their own territories?  Perhaps this causes a bit of a ruckus amongst and between family groups...


Beth Mantle (BSc, Hons)

33 Mirrool Street
Duffy, ACT, 2611
H: 02 6287 7680
M: 0407 174 427

On 24/03/2008, at 10:41 AM, John Layton wrote:

Lately I've been thinking I know more about birds than the average Joe or Jo. This does not, of course, include the erudite fraternity/sorority of the Canberra Ornithologists Group. Then, just as I'm getting relaxed and comfortable with my new ego trip, along comes an ever-inquiring little Jo and pricks my balloon by initiating discussion about the current upsurge of Magpie activity in the precincts of Holt.
During the past ten days, the local Magpies have become highly vocal and visual. Frequently, they regale us with prolonged bursts of warbling. No complaints about that. Incidentally, I recently happened upon a quote about magpie song by the celebrated Australian novelist, Peter Carey. Celebrated or not, I eschew his writing but jotted it down in my little black book, viz: "... like an angel gargling into a crystal vase." No, I don't know where the likes of Carey has been to witness an angel gargling.
Visually, the Holt Magpies have entertained us of late with aerobatics as they zoom, power-glide and dive about the sky. A few times it seemed obvious they were usurping an interloper but, most times, they appear to be indulging in a bit of joie de vivre.
"But why is this so?" inquired the little Jo, "why are they acting and displaying like this? See, it's no longer mating time. Why?"
"I don't know why," I admitted.
"Why?" the petite pest persisted, "I thought you knew everything about birds and stuff."
"No, I don't know everything about anything," I replied, "because I'm no longer seventeen and don't read Cleo. Now, buzz off and look up magpie behavior in HANZAB and give me some peace!" Chastened brat retreated to consult HANZAB but, despite diligent research, our curiosity about the local magpies' seemingly unusual autumn behavior remains unrequited.
Finally, at Belconnen Mall carpark Sunday afternoon, Australian Ravens were calling loud and long. Then I saw two magpies vigorously pursuing a raven helter skelter for 10 seconds until the object of their wrath landed atop the mall.
The curious John & Samantha.

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