The Magpie Air Force

Begonias, petunias, delphiniums and tomatoes, all in pots, adorn the small patio in front of our townhome. Across the sidewalk is a green space of close to 20 acres. Ben Lee Park is very popular with all age groups. It really is the focal point of our community. For us it is a very idyllic place.

Sitting out on the patio for a morning coffee or an afternoon glass of wine has been a special thing to do for my wife and I. The activity of young and old is wonderful to watch. Magpie 1

A visitor was sitting one of our patio chairs when I opened the door at 6 A.M. a couple of weeks ago. Sitting quietly it appeared to be asleep. Head tucked under its wing it just sat there, until… it realized that I was there. Head up immediately it hopped to the ground and emitted an emergency squawk. Immediately, screeching and a low ‘fly by’ from its vigilant parents forced me to retreat and observe.

‘Bird’ hopped hesitantly among the pots. We thought it was injured or sick. A call to the SPCA and subsequently to a B.C. wildlife expert revealed different facts. Magpies do not learn to fly from the nest. Rather, they learn to fly from the ground. Who knew?


Magpie 2Next morning when I opened the front door our baby bird was still there. So were his 2 siblings. Our patio had turned into a nursery and flight-training centre.     Regular inbound parental flights supplied food and encouragement to fly. Slowly our ‘babies’ expanded their wings to fly from chair to chair and then to nearby trees.


Always, when I came on the scene there was a kafuffle of flapping wings, squawking and screeching. I managed to get close enough to capture a few photographs but low parental ‘fly bys’ protected their fledgling interests. While we liked seeing these birds grow and develop their presence began to wear on us.

Magpie 3


We had had enough of their early morning noise and the sediment left on our patio. So we installed two flashy party windmills on the backs of our chairs and used the strength of an air powered water gun to encourage our birds to move to the trees in the park. The magpies have moved on. No more early morning noise. No more sediment to wash away. Quiet has returned to our patio.

This entry was posted in Education, My Work.

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