Thursday, September 12, 2013

Be Magpie Aware?

A few weeks ago I posted about the ubiquitous "Be Bear Aware" campaign the city of Kodiak has going on.  Really, they need to add a whole other dimension to the campaign:  Magpies.  Granted, they're not dangerous, scary, or potentially life-threatening in any way, but they deserve a little cameo.  Why?  Because they're completely ridiculous.  I've already had three encounters of the weird with these birds, and I'm sure it's just the beginning. They're absolutely everywhere up here, just like backyard sparrows in the northeast.  First, so you know what the hell I'm talking about:

Their full name is Black-billed Magpie. - One of the first new species I got to identify up here. (birding nerd alert) You can't really tell in this picture, but their tails are SO long.  And their coloring is gorgeous. - Love that shade of blue

No doubt, they're beautiful.  They're also smart, travel in flocks, are territorial, and loud!  They're pretty big birds, ranging from 17-23 inches long.  Not as big as the huge Ravens we see around here, but still on the big side for a backyard bird.  

You can see how long their tails are better in this one.  Look at
those beady little eyes. - Just waiting to get up to no good!
Photo credit:   Alan D. Wilson
My first Magpie-encounter was the day after the movers dropped off all of our household goods.   We were in and out unpacking and moving things around, so we had the garage door open.  I was in the house and heard their tell-tale squawking, and it sounded really close.  As in, possibly in the next room close.  There was a reason for that. - There were two of them in the garage, swooping around to see if there was anything good to eat that they could steal.  As soon as I walked out to investigate, of course they both high tailed it out of there. But they were totally IN the garage, diving up and down making a huge racket with their high-pitched screeching.  I half expecetd to see bird poop all over the place.  (none, thankfully)  After that nonsense, I knew we were going to have to keep an eye on these sneaky Magpies we've got hanging around everywhere.

The second encounter was much more in your face.  They have no shame, I tell ya.  I had just come home from doing some grocery shopping, and I was unloading the bags from the back of the Jeep, which was parked in the driveway.  I was talking to the hubby in the kitchen for maybe 2 or 3 minutes, when once again we heard their tell-tale squawks.  I look out the door, and no joke, there were three of them feasting on a loaf of bread that was in the last grocery bag I hadn't unloaded yet.  So of course, I come busting out the front door to scare them off.  They flew away, but managed to peck holes through the bread bag and get a few mouthfuls before I chased them away.  One of them was in the back of the Jeep, casually standing on the grocery bag, munching away at his newly hijacked lunch!  The nerve! They're bold little mothers and they know they've got nothing to lose. 

I bet if I hadn't come out when I did, they would have figured out a way to fly away with the whole loaf of bread.  (That's a funny visual)  Once again, I expected to be scrubbing bird poop out of the back of the car, but lucky for me, I guess they weren't feeling spiteful that day.  Needless to say, we chucked that loaf of bread pretty quickly.  They're almost like Gulls at the beach - just looking for any opportunity to steal food.  I'm sure they'll scavenge whatever they can, wherever they can.

Look at all of them - It's probably their weekly pow-wow to plan their next bit of mayhem

Magpie story number three was pretty funny, especially because it didn't involve our house or vehicle.  It's always funnier when annoying crap happens to other people and you get to watch.  (Somehow not as funny when it's your car.  And bread.  Incorrigible birds)  So, we were taking Cheety for a walk, and passed by a neighbor's house.  Maybe the Magpies have a thing for Jeeps. - There was a white Grand Cherokee parked in the neighbor's driveway, and I noticed some sort of motion near the passenger side window.  

I look over, and I see a Magpie inside the back of the car, sitting on top of a pile of whatever was in the back seat.  Just hanging out in there, looking out the window at us as we walked by.  Taking a little break from the stresses of being a Magpie.  I'm sure it can get overwhelming at times, what with all the skulking around and pillaging they have to do.  I couldn't just scare the bird out of the car, I had to knock on the neighbor's door and let him know.  I'd want to know if there was a bird in my car, and I'm sure if he didn't roll up the window, it certainly wouldn't be the last visit from one of the hundreds of overly-assertive neighborhood Magpies.  Next time, he'd probably bring his buddies along and have a little Jeep Grand Cherokee shin-dig.

They're funny to watch, too.  They're always in groups. - Sometimes only two or three, but sometimes really big groups, and they're always hippity hopping around like a little comedy troupe.  Someone could easily film their antics and narrate it a la the honey badger video.  Sometimes they even dive bomb Cheety when we're out walking.  He'll be minding his own business doing dog things and a rogue Magpie will come tearing toward him, intent on a little canine harassment.  I'm sure they have quotas to keep.  So, lesson learned:  Be Magpie Aware.  They will steal from you and harass your dog!

Ta-ta for now.

No comments:

Post a Comment