At the end of last week I thought Vicky and Sophie both had babies in their nests, because they were both stacking food and flying back. Sadly, suddenly Sophie stopped and became miserable again, so it seems she has lost a second clutch this year. So many birds seem to have had bad luck in the district. It is odd, because the weather is wetter than it has been (it was drought for years until now), and one would think they know how to rear their babies in a wet season with lots of bugs to feed them. But many of our friends have also told us their magpies have lost babies.
On the other hand, our neighbours confirm that Billy magpie, who goes and gets fed on their verandah each morning, is now bringing three babies with him, so he and his mate Polly have managed to do it somehow. I am just so happy that 'clueless' Billy has become a responsible and successful parent after all the ups and downs we have seen him go through over the years.
Gitie has written about our experiences yesterday with the baby babbler. It was very strange to see the reaction of the magpies in the area. I can't think of any explanation except that they were smart enough to remember me from the morning and they knew I was the human who took away the baby, so they were on high alert. When they saw me return the baby, all but one flew off until the babblers came and verified that the baby was theirs, and then the last magpie flew off. I am convinced that the magpies form actual alliances with other species. They protect the smaller birds and they use them as sentries to warn them of danger to their own babies. I once saw a flock of babblers being chased by a hawk, and they flew straight to the tree where our Maggie and family were perched, and Maggie's gang flew out of the tree just far enough to make the hawk turn aside and look elsewhere for a dinner.