Well it had to happen...my five magpie babies have grown up...almost. On the surface, they now have glossy feathers, and long tails. Their voices have changed from the higher pitched begging for food from their parents to normal magpie voices. But they still have some of their juvenile activities.
A few weeks ago, I caught them playing a game in front of the lilac hedge...to the detriment of my flower bed. One of them would swoop down, land on the walk and pluck the biggest marigold blossom off the plant. With it firmly grasped in his beak, he (she?) would then fly off, leading the others in a frantic airborne game of Keep Away.
I have never seen magpies do this before, and it certainly left the flowers very much the worse for the wear. They kept it up for about three weeks, off and on, and then quit the whole endeavor as suddenly as they began. They have moved on to the sport is teasing the young squirrels who live in my trees. The squirrel "kids" don't seem to mind...in fact, they run from the magpies, but if the birds stop chasing them, the squirrels turn and come back to find out why.
The magpies are a constant source of entertainment, and I am glad they stay for the winter. When other birds have vanished toward the south, I know I can depend upon these hardy spirits to occupy the trees and talk among themselves. All while wearing little bird tuxedos. Amazing.