Grieving Magpie

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goscrill's picture
Grieving Magpie

Back in spring i had 2 Magpie Families visiting my backyard i was also feeding them as the ground here was so hard , anyway one of the females has gone, and now i find the male seems to be grieving, he has found a mirror on my patio and sits for ages warbling and cooing to himself, he shows no aggression like you see with a bird when they see themselves in the glass in fact it is quite sad to watch , has anybody ever come across anything like this, if so could you let me know. This has been going on for over 2 months now.

poephila's picture

Hi goscrill,

We have found lots of magpies in parallel situations here, largely thanks to rural roads heavily used by magpie pairs and families. A very common occurrence is the death of one bird while the second (or rest of the family) stand around the corpse for days until in many cases they are hit too.

Greetings from the northern Southern Tablelands of NSW

goscrill's picture

Thanks for your reply Poephila, This Magpie is still coming in about 10 times a day along with the babies, he will sit at the mirror for over an hour cooing and warbling, a couple of times a baby has sat with him it it so sad, they are great birds. Actually where i am you would think there would be a lot of birds i find the variety of birds down in Kilsyth Vic fantastic i had cockatoos dusky woodswallows rosellas king parrots galah's lorikeets doves magpies finches and more when i moved back to the north east i have only seen one rosella a few sparrows and magpies which i find strange, maybe the drought has sent them away. regards goscrill

Redbrowfinch's picture

Some time ago a pair of Australian Ravens visited me each season , Young were raised. Coming home late one evening I found The female injured with the male beside her. Thinking of saving her from foxes I brought her inside' She died' The male for five days cried & looked for her.
Next season he arrived with a new partner, Two young were hatched. One night a dreadful storm, birds never seen again
. No other Aust. Ravens have visited again

Redbrowfinch's picture

Oops - double post


Anna's picture

How do you recognise if it's a female or a male Magpie or Raven?

Redbrowfinch's picture

Where M & F birds are similar, behaviour could assist
in distinguishing the difference. Spend time analizing their movements, especially in courtship season
Watching not just looking may bring some surprizes

BattyBabbler's picture

Hi All,

I am a bit late in reading these posts - as in about 4 months! I am really interested to hear of this grieving process though. I have never observed magpies grieve but I have observed Kookaburras and Silver gulls. One of the Kookaburra family had been runover on the road and the other family members (presumption they were family) came and stood around and looked at it. I was just driving past so couldn't make any real observations, but it was quite moving and sad to see.

The Silver gull story is a bit long. I was on holiday and gazing out to sea (as you do on holidays!) and observed a gull obviously with a bone or something stuck in its throat trying to get it out, gargling and carrying on. After awhile it gave up, put its head underwater and drowned itself. Immediately a flock of S. gulls came and wheeled around it (maybe 30 odd birds) and they continued for several minutes, much more than just a flyby, before they dispersed. But they must have still be watching the body of the dead gull bobbing around on the water. A sea eagle headed down to get it (the body) and immediately all the gulls were back swooping at the eagle and kicking up a fuss. The eagle retreated. Shortly after that I had to go so I don't know if anything else took place. Last I saw the body was still bobbing in the water. But while I am not sure you could say these gulls were grieving, they were certainly paying their respects.

And who said that animals don't have emotions - or souls for that matter?!


Batty Babbler

Redbrowfinch's picture

I have seen two other cases of birds grieving.

A busy road, dead juvenile Magpie Lark, Male & female trying to get it onto its feet;

A common Myner dead also on busy road. A small flock trying to revive it. "no tears shed"

MickS's picture

Yes I too have seen the indian myners trying to revive/mourning over a dead family member. A common trait perhaps amongst different species of birds?

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