Can 'mere birds' hold conferences? It seems so. On Saturday, I drove down to the local shop and, on the way back, was startled to see twenty magpies (I counted them) approaching Maggie's territory from the southwest. The whole lot alighted on Maggie's 'main tree', which I could just see by looking upwards through the windscreen. (Yes, I did first stop the car!)
I drove quickly home and pulled out the binoculars for a look. I couldn't see all twenty, but the tree was fairly loaded with magpies. Over about ten or so minutes, they departed in twos and threes, going back the way they came. In all this there was absolute silence, both from Maggie's family and from the arrivals. Gitie said that Maggie had earlier been behaving oddly, as if waiting for someone or something.
We have seen such goings on before, but it's a long story for another time. But it was enough for us to understand that a major magpie 'issue' was under discussion. We might never find out what (or we might), but we have seen enough to not take such things lightly. Moving on, yesterday morning Gitie was awoken by the crows outside the window, loudly calling in a new sound that we have never heard from them before, and which included an attempt to imitate magpie sounds. Then later, Maggie and his two kids were not amongst those present when we got up in the morning and called the birds. We were booked to spend the day in Brisbane, but we returned before dark and the trio was still missing. After some calls, Vicky came down from her nest to say hello, and Billy and gang appeared. Over the gully in the northeast, three magpies did a circle in the sky (a common way to pass a message). Through the binoculars I saw it was an adult and two kids. Much later, soon before darkness fell, the two kids came over and joined us - it was Mindy and Monty. So the kids were there, and the adult was, we suspect, Wendy, their older sister who has moved out from home and now lives across the gully. But Maggie did not return.
It now was really late for magpies, but as we watched, in ones, twos, or threes, magpies flew over from the southwest to the northeast, the procession continuing until shortly before full darkness. So yet again, a major meeting had been held involving something over in the southwest. Maggie almost certainly had gone to this meeting, but poor Billy had not been invited, and he looked quite miserable.
This morning Maggie was back again, annoyed because a koel has established itself in the mulberry tree that Sophie used to guard for him. So far we don't know what the meeting was for. But I haven't given up on eventually learning the full facts.