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Funeral for a friend

January 5, 2023

Sometime animal behaviour seems almost human.

I was sitting outside watching the landscape change colour during ‘golden light’ time when I heard a loud squawk and an Australian Magpie (Gymnorhina tibicen) fell out of a nearby tree and landed on its back. It gave three feeble flaps of its wings and then died on the spot. Scanning the branches there was no sign of a snake, goanna or other reason for its demise.

Almost immediately another magpie flew down to the body and gave a loud, raucous call. In response about a dozen magpies arrived and formed a rough circle around the body.  One by one each magpie approached the body looked down at it for a few seconds and then wandered off to do its magpie thing.

Crowd dispersing

I am loathe to attribute anything anthropomorphic to the scene but it did seem like I was witness to a ritual of some sort…. and that felt ok.

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