Not one for wasting anything, I took the bowl out to the Back Forty (that would be the back 40-feet of my yard, it’s only 150’ long.) While I don’t have to do this often, and certainly not for at least six months…I drop dead mice back there (from snap-traps) for the critters that frequent the area. At the very least, it might keep a feral cat off the bird-feeders for a day. However, on this day something very odd happened.
I dumped the bowl, water and all, onto the ground where the grass is short and the dead mouse would easily be seen. I looked around and noticed that still, there were few birds around…some starlings and doves were it. I turned and walked back to my house, when I heard a bird-call and looked back to see a Black-billed Magpie on a utility line pretty much right over where I’d dumped the mouse. Before I knew it, the bird hopped down, strutted over to something on the ground and picked it up and flew off. I couldn’t believe it…I had to go look. Yup, the mouse was gone. Dang, the thing was on the grass less than two minutes!
(My photo taken earlier this year: Black-billed Magpie)
Okay, I don’t wanna sound paranoid or anything, but…are they watching me? Good lord, I’ve been planning to put out all the feeders this weekend. I promise! Oddly, unlike a neighbor who, in the dead of winter puts out kibble (I think) for the big Corvids, I don’t usually feed Magpies myself. While last February I was tossing out bucketfuls of chicken-scratch, I didn’t see many Magpies; mostly Grackles, Blackbirds and 'exotic' Doves. I quit this practice months ago, when I realized I was also feeding Cowbirds and only encouraging the Eurasian interlopers. Still, I do see them around regularly and this spring I had two eating from the suet-cages (such a site...they're big birds for a little perch); I think they nested nearby.
I can’t imagine who's been teaching this Magpie that people tossing water might also leave a tasty treat. Very odd. And…I think they’re watching me! [shudder]