Monday, March 26, 2007

What the magpie saw…

Walking home last night from Teuchters we spied a cat stalking through the grave yard of St. Mary's Cathedral. The cat moved low to the ground, using the long grass as cover as it hunted a pigeon sitting on the ground. At first I thought the pigeon must see the cat but it turned its back on the hunter that was now less than a couple of metres from his prey.

A magpie flew into the open space and up onto the gable roof of the church. He watched the cat and the pigeon with interest. A second before the cat lunched itself at the pigeon the magpie flew down from its perch letting out a warning call allowing the pigeon to fly into the air and escape by the proverbial cat's whisker.

Is this a common reaction in birds? Do they see themselves as one species united in common cause against the cats of the world, fighting a war that stretches down through the ages? Certainly the magpie's reaction had nothing to do with its own survival as the cat had no interest in it and the magpie was perched out of reach. It also must have nothing to do with 'survival of the fittest' as far as I can tell pigeons and magpies have no dependency on each other.

Read this week:

The Book of Ballads illustrated by Charles Vess with stories by various writers.

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