[Bird Baggage] A nearby neighbor of mine is a sweet, friendly old giant of a Mormon. The other day we were discussing the strange behavior of local magpies.* These oversized, rowdy, screeching black and white harridans with beaks designed for torment daily dive-bomb his cat. They harangue and bully it whenever the animal deigns to walk his own garden. The cat flicks its tail and ignores them.
The magpies also target the cat owner’s windows for blitzkriegs of over-sized shit droppings and have even been known to go after his car.
My neighbor explained the bird-hate in this fashion: Two years ago his cat found a magpie nest up in a tree. He knocked the nest out of the tree and dumped the fledglings at his master’s feet. My neighbor wrung the birds’ necks, stuck them in a box and left them for the magpies to find. The birds have not forgotten. They have pursued him with a venom of epic proportions ever since.
While bird lovers might deplore my neighbor’s actions, my sympathies side with him. These birds are not only noise pollution. They drive out other bird populations, have killed fledglings in nests in my garden, and when you stumble close to one of their offspring they gang up on you with shrieks and a murderous glint in their black eyes that turns the blood cold. I’ve asked around about possible solutions to getting these birds to move on. So far ideas mooted include a BB gun or a trap and a pair of gloves to snap their necks once they’re caught. Given how the magpies torment my neighbor, I’m tempted to leave well alone.
As it turns out, nuisance magpies are practically an obsession way down under in Australia. A Google search of "aggressive magpies" yields dozens of Web sites and blogs devoted to trashing these avian pillagers as well as offering tips for staying safe around them. This Aussie is particularly blunt about black and white birds that run amok.
*Above: A magpie gets feisty with an innocent bicyclist. (Stephen Dark)