Pigeon TV cancelled due to Magpie Invasion

Pigeon TV cancelled due to Magpie Invasion

For some weeks in early Spring, we were entertained by what we began to call Pigeon TV. Two large Pigeons had found one of the hanging bird feeders in our garden. A good-sized feeder in the shape of a house hanging from the apple tree. Cerri spread some meal worms out for the birds and these two large visitors decided it was fair game for them also.

They would land upon a nearby branch and then try to climb into the feeder house. This inevitably ended with one or both birds hanging upside down, flapping to regain some upright dignity, whilst the other fell off and walked around on the ground, shaking its feathers as if to deny what had just happened. Sometimes one of them managed to get in the bird feeding house and eat some mealworms before realising the situation they found themselves in, pondering how to get back out…

Then one day, as we watched this free entertainment, a Magpie swooped down, then another as they chased the Pigeons away. The Magpies then became the regular visitors to the garden, the Pigeons grumpily watching on from a neighbouring rooftop. We have two large trees in the garden and soon it became apparent that there was some serious Magpie action going on in one of the trees. Back and forth these two black and white birds flew, bringing more and more twigs, breaking off small branches for the tree. I looked up and saw they were indeed building a nest.

Let’s be honest here. European Magpies, unlike their Southern Hemisphere kin, do not have the most attractive singing voices. At least not to my ears. But soon their calls were echoing across not only our garden but the also neighbours and the adjoining allotments. And it wasn’t long before smaller, different calls were joining in from inside the tree. At least two young had hatched.

How lovely.

The parents worked so hard, and those young beaks just kept on making their demands.

What could possibly go wrong?

Last Friday I drove to Cornwall to play a concert at the Three Wishes Faerie Festival. Set up in a nearby hotel for the night I receive a text from Cerri about a Corvid emergency. Like many I read Covid emergency at first, but then made the call to be told that one of the young had fledged early and was currently walking around the garden, tapping its beak on the window at its own reflection. All of the recommendations are to leave fledged young alone. That’s harder to do as the Sun sets with a young bird walking on the ground with so many urban foxes around. An attempt was made to pop it back onto the nest. Did it work? Well, there was no sign of the youngster the next morning, and it did sound as if there were once more two young in the nest. The truth is we just don’t know for sure.

Then a couple of days ago I’m sitting in my studio talking to my family on Zoom and I hear a commotion outside to see another fledgling popping its head out of the canopy of the tree. There it was. Still very young but looking a little bit more like a proper Magpie, spreading its wings, flapping, calling. I lost track of it but we then both heard it in the Yew, the other large tree in our garden. It had obviously flown across and was now calling to the food-bank of Mum and Dad. From them there was nothing. They had done their work.

It’s up to you now Sonny Jim.

The adult Magpies are still around.

The fledglings have flown the nest.

Nature has done Her thing, and what a privilege it was to have witnessed it all.

Hopefully, soon Pigeon TV will now return for season 2!

4 responses to “Pigeon TV cancelled due to Magpie Invasion”

  1. I’m so glad it was okay! I’ve been thinking about it since I first heard and wondering if nature would be kind this time. Well done both of you!!

  2. Well done you two. We had a similar situation last year when a very young Wood Pigeon was blown out of the nest. He was at that ‘bumbly’ stage, a very fat ball of feathers. Far too young to leave the nest. It took quite a while to locate the ‘nest’, just a jumble of sticks, with another little beaky face poking over the edge. Sam did a terrific job with ladders balanced precariously against the trunk of the Maple. I wished I’d had the camera(!) but eventually the job was done and the jettisoned squab was back with his sibling. Kind of leaves a warm glow behind.

  3. How wonderful! I’m so glad the youngster has a chance at a proper Magpie life.

    Our own garden pigeons have learnt to sit on top of the hanging bird feeder and bounce up and down, thus making some of the contents fall to the ground, where they can then feed to their hearts’ content.

    I work as a dog-sitter, and a lot of my guest dogs spend ages watching through the patio doors, so in our house the view is referred to as Dogflix.

  4. Magpies and other Corvids tend to get quite a bad press here in the UK. And it’s true, Magpies can be a nuisance, pecking the eggs and milk left on your doorstep by the milkman – or stealing the eggs from other birds’ nests to eat – but we often forget about one of their most important jobs.

    They’re nature’s roadsweepers. I often wonder, how much disease do these monochrome scavengers prevent indirectly, through pecking-away dutifully at the carcasses of roadkill and other dead wildlife, before it has a chance to rot too much and cause problems?

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