Since getting back into birding, the daily species count in my garden is usually in the low to mid teens. But there is one notable absentee – the magpie.
The magpie is a bird which divides opinion. Even an RSPB spokeswoman describes them as having “a challenging, almost arrogant attitude.” There is a perception that they bully smaller birds out of feeding zones. Personally I do not share the antipathy they seem to evoke. I don’t think I ever did, but Esther Woolfson’s Corvus reinforced a more positive view of magpies.
Anyhow, I hardly ever seen magpies in my own garden – in fact since I have been seriously looking and noticing, I would say never. Perhaps it is because there is a rookery nearby, and other corvids – rooks, hooded crows, jackdaws – are in that “gang mobbing” role (as an aside, I find that spreading food around different zones – and putting out smaller rather than bigger amounts – tends to ensure a good range of species) Perhaps it is, as we read here:
However, despite the apparent abundance the average count per survey square is only 5. This is far less than, e.g., the Blackbird with 13 or the Wren and the Swallow with 14
I wrote this blogpost yesterday after quite a few months of wondering at this. And a few minutes ago I posted a comment at the Ireland’s Wildlife site here http://www.irelandswildlife.com/hoopoe-invasion-of-irelands-south-coast/ querying this phenomenon.
A few minutes later I walked to the kitchen window, saw a group of rooks and jackdaws and …. a magpie. Inevitable really! One for sorrow indeed ….