Friday, June 2, 2023

Magpie fledglings

 At the end of January I wrote a post (here) about the conflict at the end of our garden between carrions crows and magpies, competing to nest in the same tree. Well, the magpies prevailed. They successfully dismantled the crows' nest, stealing twigs faster that the crows could add them. Now the magpies' first brood, an unruly bunch, are in the garden every morning and it's interesting to watch their development.

The fledglings are fairly easy to spot because their tails are shorter and more rounded at the ends than those of their parents.
To date, the fledglings don't seem to have much idea about how to feed themselves. They spend a lot of time pulling leaves off the trees, while the parents attempt to broaden their diet. 

A raucous fledgling calling for food (above) and harassing a parent (below). The longer, more slender tail of the parent is evident in the lower picture.

Occasionally, the parents will bring them meat, which almost always looks as though it must have been roadkill. Their offspring are sometimes not sure what to do with it. This one pecked at the meat, but then left it and flew away.

Many people don't like magpies because they have a reputation for taking other birds' eggs and nestlings, but much of the food that I see them carrying is roadkill - animals that people have killed with their cars. The abundance of roadkill is surely one reason why magpies are such a successful species - we humans, inadvertently, feed them. Hedgehog meat would be a rare item in a magpie's diet if it wasn't for the impact of motorists, but I often see magpies pecking at squashed hedgehog carcasses on roads.

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