I wrote this piece about the magpies in my area during COVID-19. I also mention them here.
This piece is for your enjoyment:- it is part of my ‘Love Writing Collection’
Life with the Magpies
In my post code it is the year of the magpie. There are magpies everywhere. Yelling, chortling, and talking loudly amongst themselves. They do this at full volume. I’ve yet to see a magpie whispering to a mate.
My favourite park is full of them and until the lockdown they marched around the children’s play area lording it over everyone and pretending they’re in control. And while pretending they put their aspirations into practice. At least two toddlers have been swooped and marked by a strong beak grazing past their faces. These actions have cemented a certain level of control by the magpies.
The street I walk along to this park is full of these aggressive birds. The way they control the playground has made me wary of them. When I see a couple marching toward me on the footpath I move to the road. It never occurs to a magpie to step aside and let anyone pass.
My elderly neighbour calls them, “Those bloody birds.” when I pass. I often don’t understand what he calls out but those three words are startlingly clear. I agree with him. What he says after that is lost on me because with his excitement and his thick Greek accent it is incomprehensible, although I’m sure it is not anything positive.
My daily walking around my streets and to and from the park has shown me a probable cause for this year increase in these birds. A lady who lives in a street behind me feeds them. I caught her at it the other day.
Still in her slippers and wrapped in a thick black cardigan she was tossing mince meat to cluster of them.
“Oh.’ I said ‘You feed them.”
“They’re my friends. I feed them every morning.” At that moment one of the group attending the meal stepped forward and took a piece of mince from her hand – very delicately removed it from her fingers. He tossed it back into his mouth and look up at her. Instead of giving him more she tossed some to the others.
“He’s a great one,” she said with affection ‘He’d eat it all if I let him. He’s cheeky too. I was late the other day and he came up and banged at my glass door with his beak. Such strong beaks they’ve got. If he wasn’t so gentle I’d be afraid of him. The others… they’re all a bit shy. They stay back.” She stopped talking and handed him some more meat. I watched with the word gentle in my mind. The way he took the meat was gentle. It is the first time and perhaps the last time I would use this word for a magpie. The next day when I was in the park and watched them strutting about and yelling. I remembered the gentle action with amazement and wondered if any one of the shouting crowd I was looking at would be courageous and gentle given the right circumstances.
In this post code the magpies are the dawn chorus and their voices are with us all day. In years to come when I think back to the Coronavirus crisis and the lockdown I’m sure I will always think of the magpies who offered noise and entertainment.
I’m sure this bird who wandered around my deck was looking for food. I’ve decided not to feed them even when they stare at me through my glass doors. I’ll leave that to the lady a couple of streets over! Even at this time of lockdown they aren’t my friends.
If you have a lockdown story or a story about magpies. I would be happy to publish it here for you:-
Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org