Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Gymnorhina Tibicen

We're privileged to live in an area which has been well and truly colonised by a tribe of Magpies (Gymnorhina Tibicen). I'm not entirly sure that "tribe" is the correct collective term, but their behaviour is certainly tribal, especially when it comes to guarding their nests during the breeding season.

My family has never been attacked by members of the local group, despite the fact that between us we do a fair bit of walking. I've certainly been attacked by others, not in our neighbourhood.

Maybe someone out there who knows more about birds than I do can tell me if this indeed the case (that Magpies become familiar with the people who live near them, and attack only strangers).

They're an entertaining lot, and seem to behave in ways that could only be described as eccentric. The immature birds can be seen engaged in the Magpie version of play-fighting. Usually one will stand over another - the one on the ground lying on its back making loud squarking noises, whilst there will always be a mature bird looking on as if supervising to make sure nothing gets out of hand.

On other occasions, I've seen groups of a dozen or more hanging around together, much in the same ways as younger members of the species homo sapiens. They don't seem to be doing much else than (using the jargon of the Millenials) chillin.

The photo (taken at the zoom limit of my mobile - hence the pixellation) shows a pair seeking refuge from the sun under a car. What was bizarre about this their ritual fluffing out of feathers and strutting around in circles under the car. I have no idea what this was about, but it looked pretty strange. They kept it up for about twenty minutes.

I'm glad they live here. Waking up to their morning song is a great way to start the day.

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