lizardek's obiter dictum lizardek Home Now Then Friends Info Ek Family
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GROUNDED
Liz: Go pick up your rooms, there's not that much and it won't take you long.
Martin & Karin: *much grumbling, whining, moping, dragging of feet*
Liz: *from the other room, yells* Okay, pick up everything that starts with P!
Martin & Karin: *perk right up, begin rushing around muttering to themselves* P, P, pens! P...pokemon!
Liz: *breathes a sigh of relief*
Martin & Karin: P...P...pärlor! pictures...P, P...
Liz: *comes in playroom* ...paper! people!
Martin: *sternly* WE'RE doing it, Mama.
Liz: *leaves*

*pause*

Martin: Okay, we're done.
Liz: *comes back in* um, no. You forgot the most important P thing to pick up.
Karin: What?
Liz: PLAYTHINGS!
Martin & Karin: *in unison* m-o-o-o-o-o-mmmm!

***

We've had a baby, or rather, teenage, magpie in the backyard for the past 2 days. Yesterday, I noticed him (her? it?) sitting on the deck looking a little ruffled, and when I went to the window, he didn't fly away, just turned his head and looked at me. "Oh, dear," I thought, "sick bird." He just wasn't acting healthy, and I was a bit worried that we were going to be following in Sheryl's footsteps soon.

Later, he moved off the deck, and slowly made his way across the yard to the playhouse, where he hung out the rest of the afternoon and evening, camped out beneath the stonecrop. Anders mowed the lawn in the early dusk, while we watched Return of the Jedi, and came in when he was finished to excitedly tell me that the magpie had freaked him out completely. While he was mowing near the playhouse, the bird zipped out in front of him and danced back and forth, as if saying "you want a piece of me??" Anders tried to back up and go around him, but the bird kept getting in his way, chirping and flapping, but never leaving the ground.

I did some magpie research on the internet, which is how I discovered that he was probably an immature bird. Apparently, they can get blown out of their nests, or while learning to fly, get stranded, quite often. And today, I guessed that was definitely the case, because when I went out to put a shallow pan of water near him, I got swooped and screamed at by 2 adult birds, who were very understandably upset that I was anywhere near their young one. He had very short tail feathers, and didn't seem to be making any effort whatsoever to go anywhere or do anything, just cuddling his head under his wing and occasionally falling over on his side to scratch with 1 foot at an itch. A little while after I left the water, Martin saw through the window that he was SITTING IN IT! Stupid bird. It's been damn cold today, and I figured sitting in cold water was a bad idea, for a bird that had to be getting weaker with no food, so I went out and tipped him out of it. He opened his beak and screeched a bit, but wasn't aggressive and didn't even seem particularly alarmed at having me looming over him.

I went back inside and did more research to find out what magpies eat. A couple of sites, while talking about all kinds of things that I couldn't provide, mentioned grated cheese, which I did have, so I prepared another shallow pan and took it out, setting it down next to him. A while later, we saw the adult birds swooping down and snarfing up the cheese, but neither of them seemed interested in providing any sustenance for their offspring and they took off the second we got near the window. We kept an eye on him all day, and I got progressively more worried at his tendency to fall over and lie still, all huddled up. I had read that when rescuing a magpie, it was best to try and put them in a padded box using a towel (and gloves) to lift them, as it is important to keep them warm, and to try and return them to their nest, if possible. We couldn't figure out where the nest was, but we dutifully prepared a box and headed out with a towel. I managed to slide the towel around him, and lift him into the box but he came abruptly to life and leaped out again, squawking at me. Mama and Papa Magpie came screaming and zooming over, settling on the edge of the garage roof to yell their heads off. "I'm just trying to help!" I said to them. "He's going to starve! You're no help! Feed the poor thing!" After a couple more attempts and repeats of the in-and-out leaping, I gave up, and left the box and the 2 pans as near him as possible. He sat there for another hour, and apparently fell back asleep.

When I went out at 8 p.m. to water the garden, he was gone. Not on the deck. Not behind the garage. Not underneath the stonecrop. And yes, I checked to make sure he wasn't holed up IN the playhouse, enjoying a roof over his head and playing with the bocce balls.

I'm glad, although I hope neither of the neighboring farmcats got him. I was feeling awfully helpless. Hopefully, he figured out the flying thing and made it home, instead of falling into the overgrown ditch where I can't see him.
 anxious
mood: anxious
music: David Bowie—Kooks


Comments

The kids didn't fall for the "playthings" game then did they? They are so smart, Pokemon was much more interesting to figure out, haha.

I hope the little magpie will be okay. I always feel so helpless when I see an animal that is unwell. It breaks my heart.

nope, they didn't fall for it at all. I got the hairy eyeball and hands on the hips from both of them. ;)

Ohh, I need to try this playthings ruse on the kidlet. *laugh* I hope the little magpie got coached into flight by his parents and made it back to the nest.

When I was young and Atari was cool, my dad wrote a program in Basic that would select, in order, my brother, me, and my sister... and then, at random, a number between 1 and 10... and then, at random, the word "big" or "little".

The result was:

Matt, pick up 5 little toys.
David, pick up 3 big toys.
Katie, pick up 2 big toys.
Matt, pick up 6 little toys.
David, pick up 9 big toys.
Katie, pick up 1 little toy.

...etc. Dad would press a button every time we finished our task so that we'd get the next task. We thought it was so cool to have a computer telling us what to do (it was circa 1985) that we finished in no time.

And Dad forgot to save the program, so we never cleaned as well again.

OHMIGOD, you super geeks!! hahaah! I wish I had a copy of that program! My kids would LOVE it! :)

That can't be too hard to make. If you are interested in such a program (for Windows, though), I can do it for you no problem.

really?? I would love it! thank you :)

Hey, sorry for being a little late. I've had some work over the weekend. I just want to let you know that the "game" is available for download here. Just unzip anywhere, and start. Let me know when you get it, or if there are any problems.

Cool, Frank! But when I click on that link, I get a (very funny) error page. :(

D'oh! *smacks head* I forgot that it was case-sensitive. I've fixed it and it works. http://www.shadowots.nu/game.zip

Got it! Thank you! That is hilarious! Would it be hard to customize??

That wouldn't be a problem. If you wish, send me an e-mail (sithhappens@livejournal.com) with what you want customized, or any options, and I can do it in a snap.

You are a darling dear :)

I forgot to mention that I wanted to get it out as soon as possible, but I thought about allowing some options.

You are really kind! thank you :)

What I didn't post was that this weekend there was a robins nest with a hatchling in it, and I was trying to get a picture, but being under 5 ft., I kept having to go in to get taller step stools (it was a low tree). Well, after my third attempt, when I came back the nest had been knowcked out of the tree, and the baby bird was gone. We'd seen the parents hanging about, and I think they took him in beak and flew somewhere the pesky humans couldn't bother them! The nerve.

I did a presentation for my ecology class on the paper "The Mentality of Crows: Convergent Evolution of Intelligence in Corvids and Apes". You should read this paper! They are so crazy intelligent. I've always known about and marveled at it, but the article was so impressive.

Very clever - I wonder if my kids are too old to fall for the P trick.
(of course, they have not a toy in the house right now...)

Now, THERE'S a sneaky method to ensure cleaned-up kid rooms: tell them you're moving!!

Marvelous post. I love your Martin & Karin vignettes. ;-)

And I will think good thoughts for your fledgling magpie...

We haven't seen him since. Once his tail feathers grow in (assuming he DID get away) he'll be indistinguishable from the rest of the magpie hordes, so we'll never know. oh well!

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