Bird's Eye View of Bute

The Magpie

(1) Original
(1) Original
(2) Magpie
(2) Magpie
(3) Magpie
(3) Magpie
(4) Magpie
(4) Magpie
(5) Magpie
(5) Magpie
(6) Magpie
(6) Magpie
(7) Magpie
(7) Magpie

 

 

The Magpie

Today I will write about the Magpie. A beautiful and intelligent bird with striking iridescent sheen to its colours, a mixture of black and white tinged with purple and green.

 

These birds, which for many years lived in the country, have now moved into the towns and villages causing havoc. Let me explain in detail. In the winter these birds live on berries and insects and anything else that they can find. Unfortunately they also eat other bird’s eggs and their young which make them very unpopular.
This started with grouse and pheasant estates getting their gamekeepers to shoot them on sight to protect their investment. So to survive the magpie moved house. On Bute, over many years there have been many single sightings, but now they are seen every week. This is not one bird as they are territorial in their behaviour, and sightings are all over Bute . Everywhere I go on the mainland I hear of stories of garden birds disappearing, nut and fat feeders lying untouched for days, or not at all.
In the nesting time small birds losing their whole brood to the magpie. Not just thinking it was them, but actually seeing them flying away with them. I have never seen this happen so I can only write what I hear, but I have no reason to disbelieve these stories. I am not condemning the Magpie. You have to remember that peregrine falcons and sparrow hawks kill smaller birds all the year round to survive, and the domestic cat kills by instinct. That does not mean that to protect our small birds that we should exterminate all birds of prey and all cats which are only doing what is right for them. I hardly think so. Then we would also want to do the same with the Greater and Lesser Black Backed gulls that decimate the Eider and Mallard duck chicks, and also many other species.

All birds have a place on earth, but some are more welcome than others. This is just a story of the problems that birds have in their endeavour to survive. It gives you an insight into the goings on our island, things that most of you will not see or hear about I am not asking you to take any action regarding magpies, only to be suspicious of them in your garden during nesting times. Your appearance at a window may be all that is required to make it move away. I suppose were are all N.I.M.B.Y.s, (not in my back yard).I have lost a garden bird or two to a sparrow hawk, so I would try and chase them also, but I can’t be there all the time so nature will just have to run its course. It will be interesting to see if the magpie will breed this year. If it does it will be the first for many years. P.S. Since I wrote this story I have I observed the magpie in my photo taking a house sparrow chick from its nest and flying away with it, while being chased by the parents.

Original image is taken from a print

 

Norrie Mulholland.

First Printed in the Buteman 24-05-2002


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