Saturday Evening Post: #176 No Man is an Island

John Donne’s famous line, is quoted in Australian Magpie by Gisela Kaplan.
It’s in a chapter about,”Social Rules and Daily Life”

I shared a link on Flickr to a post regarding Magpie behaviour. Here it is.
Magpies and Tracking Devices,
Seems our erstwhile scientists in need of a research project for the old PhD decided that Australian Magpies needed some help to deal with climate change. Had they taken a few moments to read a few pages from Gisela’s book —subtitled, “Biology and Behaviour of an Unusual Songbird”, they might have saved themselves a wasted theory.
Gisela tells many interesting stories of personal interactions with Maggies and each one helps gain a little understanding of the ‘smarts’ these bird inherently possess.

Perhaps one of the more interesting lines of thought is in the opening story of the First Nations Legend of the Magpie. I’ve shared the story before, so briefly, Once in the Dreamtime the sky was very close to the earth and everything was dark and gloomy. The Magpies got together and with small sticks propped up the sky until some light got through. Encouraged by their success, they worked together to get larger sticks and open it up more… and so on, until the Sun-mother was able to shine through on the first real Sunrise. Excited by their success the Magpies still sing in the sunrise each day to celebrate, I guess, both the warmth, and their cleverness.
So attaching ‘radio’ trackers to a Maggie seemed to me to be doomed for failure, from the getgo.

Here are a couple of links to the Morning story
Peter Hancock Sydney Morning Herald
Uncle Dave Tournier with the Northern Victorian version

For a lighthearted look at the failed science attempt you can’t go past
First Dog On the Moon: Magpies: Courageous heros or little feathery b…..ds

In the final chapter, Gisela, says, ” There is no doubt that the Australian magpie is a very successful bird at many levels. … The magpie’s impressive range of social activities, its willingness to interact with people, and its propensity to invent even leisure-time activities have made the magpie almost accessible company.”
…”They have shown a remarkable ability to adapt to different climate zones. (Across the Country).

And just to show that the First Nations stories were more than just fairy-tales, but rather used as teaching tools at a number of levels here is one that shows how Magpies and Currawongs worked to make it rain on the parched earth.
And how a Magpie’s Special Song brings rains.
The Earth sang a song of happiness as the rain fell, and the Peoples of the Raven danced in the falling rain.

Magpies love to Sunhaze.
To stretch out in the warm sunshine and allow the rich warmth to penetrate their bodies. Passersby may think that the bird is ill, but rather, it seems to be in a trance. I am sure they always do it when there is a partner or family member that can warn of any danger.

A small transmitter didn’t stand a chance. 🙂

7 thoughts on “Saturday Evening Post: #176 No Man is an Island

  1. Very clever birds, the Maggies! I did have a little chuckle when I first saw the article about them helping each other be rid of the transmitters! So many stories of their exploits.
    A lovely image of this lovely lady hazing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello David, yep, still smilin’ over here. I guess, by and large we don’t spend much time with them, to really determine what they are on about. They just run about on the grass, fly overhead, attack a few passersby and make fine songs. But getting to know them?


    1. Ohh, I commented and good ole WordPress lost it.
      There are so many good stories like the Currawong and Magpie that are both fireside chats but also great teaching principles stories. I think we really are only beginning to explore the depth of some of it.

      Don’t look now. But the Comment is back again.


  2. Lovely image of the sunbathing maggie David. Always nice to see a white-backed. So true about the intelligence and ingenuity of these birds, having also witnessing it in several different forms. There are now so many great stories about how these birds help people heal and have an amazing ability almost at a spiritual/emotional level to detect that a person is depressed or in need of help, similar to dogs. I constantly marvel at them and their song repertoire. I love it each day when male and female sing for me after and during bathing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello Ashley, as I said to David, I think there is an element of overfamiliarity, they are always around, they sit, run, sing and are no more noticeable than clouds or trees.
    It’s only when you get to have a special audience with a pair, such as your birdbath pair that the characteristics become noticeable.

    It’s also interesting I think that the First Nations stories are much more than legends or interesting myth, in that they all have teaching principles for living. Sometimes its not till many years later that the depth of those principles become obvious.


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