Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Signs of Spring part iii

Walking in Bermondsey today, which is not a place you expect to see green things, I spied a pair of magpies in a tree (the only tree on the street) building a nest. They had a mass of twigs of similar lengths & widths and were in the process of weaving them into a secure nest with their beaks. One would jump back every so often, onto an adjacent branch, as if to size up their progress. Amazing to watch!

Curious about what I saw, did a bit of Googling and came up with some interesting info. According to various bird sites I consulted:

"Both birds build the large nest, which can take several weeks to complete, from small branches and twigs, and line it with mud and vegetation. The nest is usually in a large tree (but sometimes in pylons) and domed to prevent predation by other crows, but some birds do not bother."
Also in the spring, "large numbers of Magpies often gather to resolve territorial conflicts and social standing. These gatherings are called parliaments."

On a related note, "breeding magpies hold a territory of about five hectares (12 acres) all year round. Because nest sites are limited, between 25% and 60% of magpies in an area do not breed."
So not only were these two quite skilled builders, they belong to a small breeding subset amongst celibate peers.

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