Ron's blog

The Death of a Friend - Killed by the False Friend Wind Power

Millions of birds are killed each year by wind turbines, and the carnage is papered over by the "green" establishment. But one poor bird finally made it to the national press in the UK. Here are some excerpts from Wattsupwiththat's "Imagine the ‘outrage’ from environmentalists if it had been an oil derrick":

There had been only eight recorded sightings of the white-throated needletail in the UK since 1846. So when one popped up again on British shores this week, bird watchers were understandably excited. A group of 40 enthusiasts dashed to the Hebrides to catch a glimpse of the brown, black and blue bird, which breeds in Asia and winters in Australasia. But instead of being treated to a wildlife spectacle they were left with a horror show when it flew into a wind turbine and was killed.

This video was taken after the bird was killed by the wind turbine, and it seems there is no video of the actual collision with the wind turbine, though there are several reports in the British MSM about the event. Of course if it had been an oil derrick or a power plant smokestack that caused the death, you can bet every environmental organization would be having a collective cow. But, it was killed by green energy, so the death gets a pass.

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How to Speak Magpie - 2

Earlier I told you about one of the "phrases" magpies have taught us - the "J phrase", which your friendly magpie will use if (s)he wants you to follow him or her. Vicky Magpie used it to take us to her babies.

But what if your friend wants to point you in a certain direction, but does not want you to actually go there? That's what the "b phrase" is for. Your friend flies towards you, and then flies in a slow circle around and above you, like a letter "b":


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Magpie Inheritance

Maggie Magpie and family with butcherbird friends
Maggie magpie and Butch butcherbird families

Until we met our magpies I had never really thought about animals having complex social systems. It’s pretty easy to think of animals as “dumb animals”! But our Maggie, sadly no longer with us, changed all that. By ‘adopting’ us into his family and introducing us to so many new friends of many bird species, Maggie opened a new world to us. All around us, birds (and, as stories from others show, other animals too) are conducting complex friendships, negotiations, and deals; they make promises, work to find good ‘positions’ in the world for their kids, and much more.

We humans get a bit uneasy when we discover we aren’t quite as far advanced beyond other animals as we like to think we are; laws of inheritance are a case in point. Surely no other animal has inheritance laws?

Well, there are clearly defined magpie inheritance laws. The countryside around our house is divided up in various ways by the various species. Magpies have one ‘map’ of the territory, on which they define the boundaries between their lands. The two species of butcherbirds here, pied and grey, share a single map between them. In other words, the magpies ignore the butcherbirds sharing their territories and vice versa, but the pied butcherbirds and the grey butcherbirds very much do take notice of each other and refuse to allow the other species into their zone. The butcherbird system has its own complexities, which I haven’t completely worked out, but I think I can tell you some details about magpie inheritance laws that might help you make sense of magpie activities around your place when a magpie dies.

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Birds can communicate without words

Since meeting Maggie Magpie and being introduced by him to magpie families and to many other species of birds, Gitie and I have become increasingly and profoundly impressed by their high intelligence and, yes, wisdom.

Maggie bright and cheerful
Maggie Magpie

I find it sad that scientists often automatically assume that only humans "think" or are "conscious". I have never quite worked out what they mean by that, because it doesn't take much looking to see intelligence in a great many other animals. Ask a cat owner!

The way contemporary animal behaviour scientists see the world is, in my opinion, profoundly unscientific. Their reasoning seems to go like this: animals do not think, they merely respond to instincts; they don't have feelings, they just react as their instinctive programming determines; humans, on the other hand, have a qualitatively different kind of intelligence and language and can construct uniquely 'human' realities like love, loyalty, and ethics, and can invent institutions like property ownership and inheritance.

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Vicky's sitting on her nest

Vicky greets us when we pay a visitYesterday Gitie and I went to see how Vicky and Bertie are doing this year on the nesting front. Although Vicky's nest is in line with our breakfast room, it is distant and we have not been able to set up the telescope this year. So imagine our delight when we found Vicky sitting proudly on the nest. The nest is in a tricky spot, so Gitie stayed by the road while I went through the paddock to the nesting tree. This is the tree that Vicky and Maggie purchased from a crow some years ago, giving the crow their old tree and nest in return, as well as rights to get food from their human friends (us) for a year). The crow made Vicky's old nest bigger and stronger, while Vicky lined the crow's nest with lots of soft material.

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