Learning to Live Together

Today I enjoyed reading posts on http://fifteenacres.com, it‘s written by a fellow Australian and is about wildlife. The blogger talks about the aggressiveness of Magpies and it reminded me of a negative response to Magpies in one of my blogs so I decided I should write about my experiences.

In 1985 we moved to our new home in a nice hilly, bushy suburb but when we put our sedate, plains-reared, suburban chooks out in their yard they were terrorized by the Magpies every time they stuck their beaks out of the Chookhouse door. We took to scaring the Maggies off with a slingshot – it worked even though we never hit anything other than a tree branch! When nesting time came we were swooped on as we walked up our driveway to collect the morning paper.

I don’t know when things changed but remember one day sitting out the front of our house enjoying a nice snack when a Magpie swooped down, sat on a chair back and looked at us expectantly, someone had been feeding it and it recognised the signs. I don’t believe in feeding animals the unhealthy food we eat but think for Magpies, dog food contains the nourishment they need. Our dogs have the mini dried food so that’s what the Magpies are offered if they visit us at the outdoor table.

We don’t get swooped on anymore though I was swooped a few years ago when I was extricating a shrieking baby Magpie from a wire netting fence. On another occasion we were working in the garden and a Magpie family came down to investigate then the parents took off leaving the baby with us. Another day we were at the outdoor table and the same thing happened. The baby just sat on the back of a chair and chatted away to us but the parents were gone so long we did wonder if they were ever going to come back for their youngster.

I named one particular Magpie, “Mr Chatty” because so often he would just appear and repeatedly run through his amazing repertoire of sounds which included a cat and a Kookaburra. The only time I managed to record him the sound of the wind ruined the video. I think the Magpie in this video might be one of his offspring. http://youtu.be/qv45yrbVZ08

Over the last 29 years we’ve gone from wishing the aggressive Magpies that attacked us would just move somewhere else to admiring their skills and thoroughly enjoying their company. I guess all it took was a willingness to “chill out” and accept there was room for all of us. Now if only the ripple effect would come into play.


Are Koalas the Ultimate Pacifists?

This morning I’ve had a horrible experience. We live in a bushy environment on a very large suburban block without houses right beside us. For days we’ve had a Koala sitting in trees in our yard, last night he was lying back against a branch, legs outstretched like an old man in his favourite armchair. About half an hour ago my dogs were going ballistic and when I went out the neighbours’ dog had the Koala and was intent on killing it. The koala had come down from the tree and gone over the 6’ high fence into the dog’s yard. Eventually I managed to get the neighbour’s attention and he was able to get the dog away from the Koala.

What I just don’t understand is WHY Koalas don’t recognise danger and WHY they don’t use their claws to protect themselves. I can accept that fear of people and all the threats associated with them is just not inherent in Koalas but other creatures manage to learn over generations. Here in Australia In a relatively short time Crows have learned to flip over introduced Cane Toads so that they can eat them without ingesting the poison which lies in a gland on their backs. WHY haven’t Koalas learned in all the years since people came to this land that barking dogs represent a threat and WHY haven’t they learned to use their long, strong, sharp claws????

A Koala looking so laidback.
A Koala looking so laidback.