Australian Magpie

The Australian Magpie is a force to be reckoned with. Although pretty enough to look at, it is especially musical and mimics other sounds, including sirens and people. Yet is has a darker reputuation. Cyclists often peddle about wearing helmets bearing long plastic wires to prevent maggies from ‘swooping’ them. This is where they fly down and attack from behind, pecking at the head, the ears or even the eyes. Pedestrians are also fair game, and warning signs are erected on streets and parks that this protected, native species is disposed to attack passers-by.

My mother was attacked a few years ago, and her ears left bleeding. Evidently, the offending fowl had been itself attacked or its nest threatened by someone resembling her. They can remember the faces of up to 100 people, and anyone who matches their ill-memories is given sharp rebuke. It was with some surprise, therefore, that I learned my family regularly feeds the clan of 30-or-so maggies that inhabit their neighbourhood. Each evening, these feathered thugs wait around the back yard for the remains of the night’s tea and other treats. It was suggested I hand-feed them which took some nerve, considering the injuries and related deaths their colleagues had caused elsewhere. Sure enough, they eyed me suspiciously, but took the food from my hand, quietly crooning as they received it. They were also rather skilled at playing catch. They are smart enough to realise that attacking the hands that feed them is counterproductive. Furthermore, it also creates a friendship between our two species. My mother and sisters are safe as they walk down their pavements, knowing that the local magpie mafia will not swoop them.

These magpies seem far wiser than humans. The God of heaven bountifully feeds and clothes us, yet His existence we cheerfully deny and His glory we denigrate. We attack more viciously and offend more unjustifiably than any magpie, yet we receive far better things from Him than I fed my new friends.