Over the last few weeks we have had some violent wind storms. Spring here in South Australia can often be windy, but these were gale force winds. One afternoon earlier this week wind gusts up to 80kph were recorded many times. While we didn’t suffer any property damage others in our state were not as fortunate. One poor man even drowned when his boat was overturned in rough conditions on the River Murray upstream from my home town of Murray Bridge.
During the worst of the stormy weather I was concerned for the baby magpies in two nests within 50 metres of my office where I am writing this post. We had watched with interest when the nests were being built. Actually, they were last year’s nests which were refurbished. Then we waited while the mother birds sat patiently during the incubation period. Then over the last few weeks there was a constant begging noise from the babies.
When the first storm hit last Monday the babies were able to hang on to the nesting material. The following storms on Wednesday were even worse and the young were blown out of their cosy homes. Watching them today I suspect that they were not yet quite ready to fledge* because they are still unable to fly; they run everywhere – well, it’s more of a wobbly, unsteady waddle.
At one point the two babies from the nest closest to our house clambered up on a heap of scrap wood near the garage. I managed to get up reasonably close without spooking them, thus getting some good photos. You will notice that they are still very downy. These downy feathers will remain for some months yet. You will also notice that the nearest one has not much of a tail yet. In the first few days after fledging, they are terrible flyers as they learn how to get around; having virtually no tail does not help.
*Note: to see a definition of the word fledge click here.
- Baby Magpie – the most popular post on this site with nearly 500 comments from readers.
- Crash landing for a baby magpie
Over recent weeks we have been eagerly awaiting the hatching of the baby Australian magpies in two nests in our garden. The fact that we have two nests is exciting because this is the first time in the last 25 years we’ve had two active nests on our 5 acre property.
A few weeks ago we heard the constant squawking of the young for food, so we knew it was just a matter of time before the youngsters headed out into the wild world. Several days ago I was suddenly aroused from my concentration on my writing by a bang on the window no more than a metre from my shoulder. A baby magpie – fresh out of the nest – was perched precariously on the frame of the window. When I reached for my camera it flew off to another part of the garden. When I say “flew” I actually mean it was undertaking some sort of barely controlled flapping and squawking one could loosely call “flying”.
I was able to approach the baby to within two metres with dad right next to me – quite unconcerned. I find it wonderful that they never swoop us or get concerned by our presence nearby. In fact, they will often approach us when we are gardening, looking for worms and other tasty morsels we might dig up. Wonderful.
We have had quite a flurry of birds breeding in our garden and nearby over the last month or so. White Winged Choughs, Little Ravens, New Holland Honeyeaters, Red Wattlebirds, House Sparrows, Common Starlings, Blackbirds and Grey Shrike-thrushes to name a few of them.
One species that I was surprised about was our resident Australian Magpies. They have been very quiet in recent weeks and I did not find a nest. Not that I looked very hard, mind you. Still, I probably expect them to nest within about 40 metres of the house as is their usual habit.
Yesterday I heard the unmistakable call of a baby magpie calling from the tall eucalypt tree next to the driveway. Sure enough, there was a newly fledged baby magpie all covered in downy feathers and constantly begging to be fed.
UPDATE: I have just written a new articles, with photos, of the latest baby magpie in our garden. To read it, click here.
October 2011 Update: This article has seen more visitors and comments than any other on this site. Thanks to all my readers who are so interested in sharing their stories and experiences with baby magpies. I’ve included more photos taken recently in our garden.
Book review: The fearsome flute players is a wonderful books about Australian Magpies and how to care for them. You can read my review of the book here – and there is a special offer for readers of Trevor’s Birding too.
Coffee mugs: you can now buy coffee mugs featuring one of my magpie photos – click here. Search the same site for many other items featuring my bird photos, including shirts, hats, stationery, key rings – and much more.
UPDATE October 25th 2013
Sadly I have had to close comments on this article, the most popular article I have ever written. It has had 488 comments, hundreds more than any other post on this site.
Today I received another 10 comments from someone called LEE who attempted to post some aggressive and crudely worded comments in an attempt to correct what others had written. Such language will not be approved here, nor will very long comments all in capital letters (ie shouting). Please take your inappropriate comments elsewhere – or start your own website.
UPDATE September 24th 2015: Let’s try again. I have reopened comments on this post again. Please keep comments civil.