Sophie Magpie - Queen of The Mulberry Tree (2004-2008)
Sophie on her favourite perch atop the Mulberry Tree along with her younger sister Wendy.
Sophie loved the Mulberry Tree and one would often find her perched atop keeping an eye on surrounding events and welcoming friends from far and wide. From neighbours like the rainbow lorikeets, scaly breasted lorikeets, galahs, and babblers and regulars like the crows, currawongs, butcherbirds, noisy miners, blue-faced miners, to occasional visitors like the bowerbirds, friarbirds and orioles. All the birds loved Sophie and knew they could safely come to the tree, introduce themselves to us and pose for some photographs. Sophie made sure they were welcome and that none of the regulars chased them away. We know this because one and all of them came to see her while she was ill, stopping to talk to her and fill in the details of the days events, that she would have heard but could no longer see. None of these visitors who paused for a chat with her, ate the fruit - something they used to do before. And later after her death, they flew past silently instead of making their usual chatter. Sophie was a quiet and unassuming bird. Only by observing the behaviour of these other birds after her passing, with their behaviour while she was sick and through the years when she was well and active, that we have learned so much about her and also the depth of their feelings.
Sophie loved being a mother and diligently looked after her bubs. Months before she laid her eggs, she had shown us her nesting tree. Losing her reserve, she sang for ages as she hopped about the branches. At the time we had not understood her behaviour. But when we saw her stacking food in her beak we followed her. She took us back to the same tree and spotted two chicks through the binoculars. Sophie had never looked happier. Sadly only days later, we had some terrible storms with lashing winds which destroyed her nest. The next morning Ron found the bodies of her chicks who had drowned having fallen out of the nest. Sophie, Maggie and Vicky were heartbroken. Sophie never really recovered, finding solace in caring for her baby sister Josie. But unfortunately that comfort too was shortlived as another terrible storm took Josie's life within days of her fledging. Wendy who was two years younger than Sophie gave her company and support throughout. Fortunes turned again and some weeks later Maggie and Vicky were blessed with Mindy and Monty. Sophie cared for them like her own and the twins too were devoted to her. The slideshow below gives a glimpse into her life with her sisters and her only brother Monty.
Philly and Sophie were twins born to Vicky and Maggie in 2004. Vicky's nest was still in the distant paddocks and we had to cross several fences to see her. The two chicks looked so sweet, quiet and 'philosophical' as they looked down at us from their high abode, hence their names. Once they fledged the pair were anything but 'philosophical'. Philly was talkative, friendly, and seemed to have much to complain about as she regularly squabbled with Sophie who in complete contrast was quiet, unassuming and somewhat remote. Vicky had the patience of an angel as she ignored their banter and continued with her daily activities. Sophie preferred the company of her older sister Rosie who was also quiet and reserved. As they grew older, Philly started to travel, making trips, checking out potential haunts for her days as a young adult. Sophie always stayed at home. Even when younger sister Sparky's who was an adventurer by nature and loved breaking protocols at every turn (much to her mother's dismay), started trooping around the countryside on a frequent basis, Sophie stayed at home happy and content, untempted to make even short visits around the valley.
Sophie contracted her illness while Butchie was recovering indoors in our care. She knew Butchie had recovered fully but no amount of coaxing and cajoling from us or any of the other birds could convince her to let us catch her. Had she allowed us perhaps we would never have learned just how much the other birds cared for her. We saw Maggie and Monty feed her, encouraging her to eat, putting food in her beak when she was feeling low. We saw them accompany her when she couldn't see, showing her the way, correcting her direction. We saw them call out to her at night, telling her which way to go so she could roost with them safely for the night. Even Billy's kids called out to her when it got late, so she would know it was dark and time to fly to safety. She was not thrown out, or attacked and injured. Her bird friends and even her horse friends would drop in for a chat. Her sister Wendy who had moved out, would drop in for a quick visit in the late evenings for a quick hello. The sorrow of all the birds at her parting was undeniable and her brother Monty became a legend when he put some food on her grave.
Stay tuned by subscribing to the Wild Bird Talking Newlsetter and the WingedHearts Blog.