They were a noisy bunch, the magpies on the hill gang. Loudly claiming their territory into the forest.
The juveniles stalked the paddocks with their elders, heads tilted, listening for some underground movement. Beaks stabbing the earth.
Breakfast over, training started. Mid-air play fights, snapping at tail feathers, swooping, entanglements. Juveniles need to defend themselves from bigger predators.
Every now and again the entire group would mob and harass the resident wedgetail eagles as they cruised the paddocks like predator drones, eying off the rabbits. But they gave up when, a few flaps later the wedgetails thermalled up to where the magpies would have needed oxygen masks.
The play flights and dive bombing continued sporadically.
Sometimes an injured magpie lay stunned and bloodied next to a tree; a sentinel perched close by eying off the human wandering past. Both species managed to keep an eye on the injured bird.
Occasionally, the wandering human found a dead magpie. Unguarded, under a tree.
So, a hole was dug, a goodbye said.
Taken from “Words From the Heart,” a publication of the Daylesford U3A Writers’ Group.