They say evil takes many an avian form. For Poe, it was the Raven. If you asked Coleridge, he might say the Albatross, albeit after it had been shot out of the sky…
The first time HH and I saw a Magpie taking flight from our garden here in England, he exclaimed, “What a magnificent bird!”
We have since lived here long enough to no longer be fooled by its stunning plumage. The magpie may LOOK like the bird version of a 1961 Corvette with its gleaming blue-black feathers contrasted to shockingly white sides, but it is there the similarity ends. In actuality, the magpie is an assassin. A Ninja. A serial killer.
If the bird world were a gangland club, the magpie with its arrogant, cock-of-the-walk strut, would be the hit man. Robins and sparrows hop. They chirp. They make one happy simply to see and hear them. The magpie, on the other hand, swaggers. It has the ugly scream of a disgruntled crow, its gangland cousin. The magpie is the undeniable thug of the bird world.
Last week, I was thrilled to greet the arrival of six beautiful robin chicks, nested safely in the ivy covering our barn.
They lasted precisely two days, thanks to the mercinary talents of our resident magpies.
Then, yesterday, while washing dishes, I heard the frantic screeching of a chick and, fearing it was one of the nine I have freeranging with their mammas in the front garden, my head shot up just in time to see one of our feathered thugs making its way out over the wheat field with a squirming, screaming chick in its claws. While I was relieved to know my own chicks were safe, I couldn’t help but spare a thought for the poor momma bird.
Oh, for a gun! And I am not a violent lady, as you know. But there are times, my friends, there are times when I would love to put a pound of buckshot into some predator’s murderous hide. Starting first with the magpies, and then moving on to the foxes which abound here. I might even take out a rat or twenty along the way. Man, I miss my cats!
Ok. I know. Circle of life, blah blah blah.
- feature photo: shutterstock
- magpie: pinterest.com
- 1961 corvette: vettefacts.com