/ Magpies

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Eric9Points 25 Mar 2020

I've just learnt something new about Magpies.

I'm working from my kitchen just now and it looks out onto the back garden through a pair of glass doors. Thus morning I decided that I was never going to eat that last tofu frankfurter that had been lying in the fridge for a fortnight so rather than let it go to waste I cut it up and chucked it into the garden under the bird feeder. 

It's a popular spot for the magpies and pigeons because the smaller birds spill food from the feeder, which hangs from a tree, onto the ground where the bigger birds can eat it. In fact the magpies have learned how to hang onto the feeder but I guess it must be quite strenuous as they prefer to take what falls or what I throw out for them.

A few minutes after the Frankfurter hit the ground a magpie turned up. It scoffed as many bits as it could and then did something interesting. It started taking chunks away and hiding them in different spots, two or three chunks in a pile of leaves, another chunk buried under a plant. No doubt about it, I watched it with my binoculars. As I am typing this now, about 40 minutes after first chucking it out, the frankfurter has gone.

The pigeon, by the way, did pick away at a lump or two but not much else. Not sure it was particularly fond of the tofu.

AndySL 25 Mar 2020
Eric9Points 25 Mar 2020
In reply to AndySL:

Just like that!

I knew they hid shiny things but not food. On reflection I suppose they usually hide food but will hide other stuff they find interesting as well.

wilkie14c 25 Mar 2020

In reply

> The pigeon, by the way, did pick away at a lump or two but not much else. Not sure it was particularly fond of the tofu.

pigeons only eat chips and kebab meat nowadays 

Moley 25 Mar 2020
In reply to Eric9Points:

Now you know it's hidey hole places you can raid them after dark, who knows what you might find?

David Riley 25 Mar 2020
In reply to Moley:

That's what they want.   You don't see them coming.   They hide you in small pieces.  Killers setting traps.

Eric9Points 25 Mar 2020
In reply to Moley:

Probably some of the best before June 2019 Twiglets I threw out yesterday. They disappeared pretty quickly.

Eric9Points 25 Mar 2020
In reply to wilkie14c:

> In reply

> pigeons only eat chips and kebab meat nowadays 

In Morningside they have evolved to live off quinoa tabouleh and chorizo.

pasbury 25 Mar 2020
In reply to Eric9Points:

I always have the impression that corvids are observing the petty affairs of humanity with interest and not a little condescension.

kipper12 25 Mar 2020
In reply to pasbury:

In the way of “you wont what those stupid hairless monkeys have done now”

pasbury 25 Mar 2020
In reply to kipper12:

Rooks are the worst; croaking about us behind our backs.

aln 25 Mar 2020
In reply to wilkie14c:

The gulls will be going hungry now MacD's is closed.

David Riley 25 Mar 2020
In reply to pasbury:

> I always have the impression that corvids are observing the petty affairs of humanity with interest and not a little condescension.

Watch out for corvid 19.

Al_Mac 26 Mar 2020
In reply to Eric9Points:

I've been reading a book on Ravens recently which suggests that a lot of Corvids exhibit this behaviour. Pretty amazing creatures really, lots of character and interesting to watch from the window while working at home. They seem to be one of the more fun loving animals.

mondite 26 Mar 2020
In reply to Al_Mac:

> They seem to be one of the more fun loving animals.

Very intelligent as well.

On the stashing side there was a study done on one of the US corvid species which did lots of stashing.

They noticed some birds were more paranoid than others about watching out for other birds when creating a stash and sometimes coming back to move it. Whereas some others werent as paranoid.

Once they watched a bit longer they realise the paranoid birds were also the ones most likely to thieve from another nest.

Some of the other studies included a grad student harrassing a corvid (cant remember why) but they noticed even several years later they were treated with suspicion by the local corvids.

mick taylor 26 Mar 2020
In reply to Eric9Points:

When Jays do this with acorns, its  how oak trees sow their seed, so to speak (no point in them trying to grow where they have fallen, they wouldn't compete with daddy/mummy oak).  Basically, they forget the cache.  In years to come, those tiny Frankfurter seeds will have grown into large sprawling Frankfurter trees, with large 7 inch Frankfurters dangling down in the autumn sunshine.  Should make an interesting sight.

Hat Dude 26 Mar 2020
In reply to Eric9Points:

Magpies are well known for their selflessness!

After it had realised what it had just greedily scoffed, it hid the rest from other birds so that they wouldn't suffer too! 😉

malk 26 Mar 2020
In reply to Eric9Points:

i've had some great close views of coal tits caching sunflower seeds outside my window. i didn't know about magpies but not surprising for a corvid. i sometimes set my camera up on a log nearby that attracts nuthatches that are obviously caching seeds and nuts as they return so often. have also noticed that tits often shadow them (arriving just after they leave and fly off in same direction- perhaps noticing where the nuthatches are caching while caching themselves;)

petemeads 27 Mar 2020
In reply to Eric9Points:

We had an interesting magpie visiting last year, a youngster with an undeveloped tail. It demonstrated how evolution probably worked - it hopped everywhere, and could flap/hop a few metres  at low level over the lawn before losing balance and crashing. One could imagine Archaeopteryxes with random longer tails getting a huge advantage in evading predators. Suddenly birds became a thing...

Post edited at 10:29
Thugitty Jugitty 27 Mar 2020
In reply to Eric9Points:

Clever bird. This is pretty much what I’d do if somebody served me a tofu frankfurter. I’d be hiding it in my pockets so as not to embarrass my host. 

David Riley 27 Mar 2020
In reply to Thugitty Jugitty:

>  I’d be hiding it in my pockets so as not to embarrass my host. 

I can see how that could go wrong.

profitofdoom 28 Mar 2020
In reply to Eric9Points:

> Probably some of the best before June 2019 Twiglets I threw out yesterday.....

You threw out some best before June 2019 Twiglets???!! What are you, a millionaire*?? I would scoff any up to 6 years out of date 

* JOKE

Eric9Points 28 Mar 2020
In reply to profitofdoom:

I normally have a flexible approach to bbe dates but they'd gone a bit chewy.

Lankyman 28 Mar 2020
In reply to Eric9Points:

>It started taking chunks away and hiding them in different spots, two or three chunks in a pile of leaves, another chunk buried under a plant. No doubt about it, I watched it with my binoculars. As I am typing this now, about 40 minutes after first chucking it out, the frankfurter has gone.

Just substitute 'bit' and 'chunk' for 'toilet rolls' and 'pasta' and you have a perfect description of humans panic buying. Even better when you replace 'the frankfurter has gone' with 'the shelf was stripped bare'. I reckon that magpie knows something .....

Tom V 28 Mar 2020
In reply to Al_Mac:

Yes, if you want to see a bird really enjoying the gift of flight, sit on a Pembrokeshire cliff top for half an hour watching the choughs.

In reply to Eric9Points:

Not long ago I saw a crow dip some stale bread in a puddle that had formed in a street sign so it was easier to eat. It ate as much as it wanted and then buried the rest in some grass and flew off. 

Tom V 28 Mar 2020
In reply to purplemonkeyelephant:

I once saw a crow flying into a headwind with what looked to be a full slice of toast in its mouth. Judging by the way its flight kept dipping it must have had a massive amount of negative lift in the airflow but the bird carried on heroically till I lost sight of it.

Michael Hood 28 Mar 2020
In reply to Tom V:

Similarly Fulmars seem to sometimes just be doing various manoeuvres just because they can.

In reply to Michael Hood:

Small birds, ie the fighter pilots of the bird world, also seem to love zooming around objects and testing their agility. Presumably it's training for avoiding predators and improving hunting. 


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