Magpies and human mothers

A family of magpies lives by our house. Over the last couple of weeks I have watched them play out a sort of an avian version of... toddlerhood.

For a while the babies sat in one spot and got fed by their parents. They squawked, squawked, squawked until an adult magpie flew over, regurgitated some food right into their beaks (or was it snails? It's hard to tell from a distance) and for a few fleeting moments there was silence - until squawking started again.

It's kind of like me and The Girlie - she, too, "squawks" when she's hungry and I feed her, right into her mouth.

Then came another stage where the babies followed their parent - a mother? - around and got fed, too, but not in that one spot any more. They picked at grass and our compost heap, continuously squawking for more, and I watched their parent - yes, a mother, I think - in quiet amusement as she listened to their continuous "Squawk! Squawk! Squawk!", and I imagined her wanting to bite their heads off, for just that one moment, for it would give her that much-wanted moment of silence.

Kind of like human parents of toddlers sometimes do. ("Look, ball!" - "Yes, that's right, a ball." - "Mama, ball!" - "Yes, I heard you. A ball! Do you want to roll the ball?" - "Look, ball! Mama, ball!" - "...uhm, yeah, ball. Do you want to roll it here?" - "Mama, ball!" - "I heard you. A ball." - "Look, ball!" - *sigh*)

And now they're in that stage where they're not getting fed any more - except, they still squawk. Their mother is walking around the yard, with two furry-looking young magpies at her tail, and doing her very best at ignoring them - whilst they're doing their very best at being loud and demanding, but not getting anything.

Kind of like teenagers are, I guess.

I think I can see their mother aging right in front of me. She's been listening to this squawk, squawk, squawk for days now, and one day they're bound to *get it* that they're old enough to take care of themselves now - but oh dear God they're making her suffer whilst they're not there yet.

Squawk. Squawk. Squawk.

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