Magpie Tales - amazing journey of four young magpies

~~~~ The Story of Hoppie, Nikki, Thunder, & Bolt ~~~~

Hello. My name is Kyle. I am ten years old. Summer is finally here and I am going to do a second blog. I did my first SOTW blog last summer and I really enjoyed it. If you have read it, thanks for visiting my blog page. In case you didn’t have a chance to see if, here is a link to my last year blog.

My last summer blog

Honestly, I didn't think I was going to blog again this year. But something very special happened just before summer holidays, something like none other, something so special that I decided to blog about it. This is how it all began…

Day One: Friday June 22nd 2012

I came home from school and while I was playing on my computer, I heard lot’s of squawking from the backyard. I went to go see what it was and to my surprise there were two baby magpies in our backyard, right in the middle of the patch of squash plants! Wow, two baby magpies in our yard. How cool was that?

Nikki standing on the left while Hoppie checking out one of our squash plants

The two birds looked pretty much alike except one was a bit bigger than the other. But I could see there were different personality traits between the two of them. The smaller one would just stand there while the other bounced all over our backyard.

I still remembered a few years ago when a very young magpie chick fell off the nest. There was no sign of its parents and the chick was getting weaker and weaker. Mom used a drinking straw to give it water but the chick was just too young and too weak to drink. A few hours later we buried the baby bird in our backyard.

Mom said these two chicks were a bit older than the baby chick that died but if they were abandoned by their parents there was nothing we could do to help. But I pleaded and mom finally gave in. She said we could try to give them some water even we didn't know if they knew how to drink. I felt nervous but was determined to try to help them anyway.

We put out a few plates of water out in the yard then we waited. About half an hour later, one of the birds finally was curious enough to check out the plate of water. But it didn’t seem to understand how it worked. It started to peck at the plate instead of the water! Then finally after a long wait it did it! It scooped up some water with its beak then tilted its head back to swallow.

Hoppie got a taste of water but Nikki was too tired to be curious

Then suddenly I had an idea. They needed names! I decided to call the bigger bird Hoppie because it hopped around quite a bit. And for the smaller one that just stood around, I called it Nikki because we figured she must be a girl.

I pleaded with my mom to do more and she said we could put out a bowl of soaked bread. After she put the bread outside Hoppie came over and pecked at the bowl of bread and then it turned and walked away. Seemed like baby magpies didn’t like bread. It took Nikki a while but she finally had a drink of water too. This was great! I felt confident that they’d be alright so I went back to play my games.

Finally Nikki got the idea!

A little while later mom called me to the kitchen. I bolted there and was surprised to see an adult magpie with the chicks. More amazing yet, the usually quiet Nikki was screaming on top of her lungs until the parent shovelled something down into her throat! Hoppie was a bit late and he didn't get any goodies this time.

Delivery: only it's not pizza!

A parent magpie came to feed and Nikki was the lucky one this time

My mom told me these birds were not abandoned by their parents but simply their parents were teaching them how to do things on their own. I saw the parent pecking at a pile of dirt and pulling something out then flying up to the fence. I wondered if it was trying to show the chicks how to find food. The confused Hoppie and Nikki didn’t seem to get it. They did follow their parent to the fence, however, then started pecking senselessly at the dirt. I guess if the chicks had to learn to find food, the pile of dirt probably was a good place to start.

After their parent took off, the two chicks looked on

The same thing repeated a few more times over the next hour, then it started to rain. Hoppie took shelter under our apple tree behind a bush of herbs while Nikki curled up into a ball behind a garbage can. It wasn’t a very effective place for shelter but she probably didn’t know any better place to go. Mom told me to go to have dinner because there wasn’t going to be a lot of action in the rain.

When my dad and I were finishing supper my mom asked me to hurry back to the kitchen. The rain had stopped and in the yard was an adult magpie that had just flown up the fence before disappearing into a tall tree.

The parent sat on the fence for a bit before flying away

I was fascinated to see Hoppie trying to get up the same tree by flapping his wings but of course he couldn’t fly just yet. That didn’t discourage him so he hopped back to the end of the garden and made a running start for a second attempt. Even though he still couldn’t get up the tree he kept on practicing. Nikki didn't show any interest in going anywhere so she stood exactly where she was.

The two chicks were soaking wet

Then it began to get dark and we saw Nikki waddled into a small bush for the night, followed by Hoppie. We couldn't see them anymore but I kept a prayer in my heart that these little birds would prevail a cold and wet night.

Comforting each other in such miserable weather

Please come back to find out more developments of these magpies and their journey. To be continued...

~~ Day Two: June 23, 2012 (Saturday) ~~

It’s Saturday morning, a day to sleep in but I woke up to some commotions. I rushed downstairs to see what was going on, only to see an adult magpie flying up to the fence. After I had my breakfast my mom and I watched the birds from the kitchen. They looked extremely wet. But luckily they had learned how to preen themselves. We were watching the chicks when we saw TWO adult magpies appeared! The first time we had seen both parents together! This was great! Hoppie and Nikki squawked as loud as they could, but the parents completely ignored them and flew away. After the parents had flown away Nikki and Hoppie practiced their hops. Nikki now could hop up from the grass to our flower box. This was awesome! Even they weren’t my babies I felt like a proud parent. As usual, Hoppie got curious. He went to our squash patch and picked up a rock. At one point we thought it was a worm but at closer examination it was just a rock.

Left: The two chicks squawked at their parent. Right: Nikki mastered the skill of hopping

I called my good friend, Peter, to see if he wanted to come to watch our baby magpies. He said his dad was taking him to the garage sale parade. (For those who have never been to a garage sale: people sell things they no longer want in their garage while other people come and buy their stuff at a very cheap price. Like what my mom always says “A man’s junk is another man’s treasure” so you never know). My mom and I decided to take a break and go with Peter’s family. We went to a garage sale where there were lots of stuffies (plush animals) for only 5 cents each! I always loved stuffies so I was in heaven. My favourite stuffy of all time was a Russ beanie called Yapper that my mom received at her baby shower (a baby shower is a party where an expecting mother receives baby gifts from her friends). And guess what I found at that garage sale? Another Yapper! I was beyond myself because Yapper had been discontinued and no longer sold in stores. I already had 2 Yappers yet I was still very excited when I found a third one. Since I already had two Yappers I called this new one “Yapper Junior”.

I would love to tell you more about my Yappers but this blog isn’t about stuffies so let’s get back to the birds.


Peter came over to watch the birds after garage sale shopping. We watched from our kitchen window but it started to get dark outside. Then we saw both magpie parents squawking as a crow flow across the sky. The babies immediately took cover under a tree. Whenever the crow got close to the babies, the parents would swoop down and squawk in great alarm. Peter and I eyed the door to the backyard and we knew exactly what we needed to do if the crows came down for the chicks. But mom said as long as there was easier preys the crows wouldn’t risk fighting two adult magpies. It was raining so much that we couldn’t hear anything except the sound of the rain. There was not much to watch neither, so Peter and I went to the basement to play.

About a half an hour later the rain had stopped and my mom called us to the kitchen. She told us the birds were nowhere in sight. We rushed there and saw only an empty backyard. So we went outside to check. We found only one chick hiding under the pine trees. We couldn’t tell which one it was and I wanted to look for the second one, but an adult magpie started squawking so we knew better to leave them alone. Peter and I went to go play some Wii games.

An hour later mom said she had something to show us. She took us to the back lane where we saw two very frightened baby magpies. Where did these two come from? Was one of them Hoppie? I couldn’t tell but that didn’t matter because our priority was to save them. We looked up and saw two crows looking down on them. Then we looked on the other side of the lane there were two adult magpies. It was basically a face off. One of the adult magpies had lost a leg, probably from a previous fight. We also found magpie tail feathers on the groud. Now, we had a dilemma: If we brought the chicks inside (safe from the crows) their parents might abandon them. But, if we left them alone they would be eaten by crows. We finally decided to save them now and worry about them later.

We tried to catch them with a bucket, but they kept slipping away. Worse yet, one of them slipped under a chain link fence into someone’s backyard. Peter & I ran to ask the owner of the house if we could go into their backyard while mom caught the other bird and released it in our backyard. The house owner gave us permission to look for the chick in his backyard. We found the frightened chick hiding in tall grass. We tried to get him but he disappeared behind even taller grass. Mom suggested taking a break to see if the magpie parents could find the chick. I didn’t want to go… who knew if it would be the magpie parents or the crows that found it first? After a while, just as Peter was about to give up hope too, I found it. Mom Pick it up with her gloves and released it in our backyard. We went to count the chicks and there were three of them. But… where was Hoppie?

I wanted to look for Hoppie but mom said it was getting late and we were completely soaked. We went back inside the house but I couldn’t stop thinking about my young friend. I didn’t know how many chicks I was going see the next morning. If Hoppie was out there by himself, he would have to endure a dark and lonely night all by himself! Hoppie , I will find you soon. Hang in there!

Lonely Hoppie

Day three will be up soon. Come back tomorrow to read more exciting stories about these guys.

~~ Day Three: June 24, 2012 (Sunday) ~~

I woke up early in the morning and immediately I wanted to see the birds. I wanted to see how many of them were there. When I opened the blinds, my heart sunk. I only saw one bird. I went upstairs and told mom. She said it sounded more than just one bird. We went back downstairs and it was then we saw three of them. I would like to think one of them was Hoppie but, my mom said it might be but she wasn’t sure.

A lone chick in the pine trees. Can you spot it?

I saw one sunning on a small piece of rock, while the other two happily playing and bouncing about. I named the one that sort of looked like Hoppie, Thunder. And the one that followed Thunder around, Bolt.

Two new chicks: Thunder & Bolt

After my breakfast my mom took a video with her camcorder. Then she showed it to me. At one point we got to see momma magpie feeding her chicks. When my mom zoomed in on Momma Magpie I noticed she only had one leg. She must have lost her leg while fighting the crows. I felt sorry for her but I was very happy that she was such a brave mother.

If you look closely you will see Momma Magpie got only one leg

I knew Peter would like to be a part of this so I called him and he agreed to come over immediately. Just when Peter walked in mom said she might have found Hoppie! REALLY! She said she found Hoppie in a bush above the ferns. She quietly told Peter to come out so they could count the birds under the pine trees. Peter counted three chick under the pine trees. Yes! That meant the one in the ferns was Hoppie! But there was a catch. Hoppie was stuck in the bush and couldn’t release himself so he called for his mom. When momma magpie arrived all she could do was looking and hoping that Hoppie could untangle himself. But apparently he was not able to do so.

Poor Hoppie got stuck in a small bush!

We had to take action. Mom said she was going to drape a piece of cloth over Hoppie’s head so he would relax then we would put him back with the others. We waited until all the adult magpies were out of sight, then we quietly sneaked out. When mom draped the piece of cloth over Hoppie’s head, he fell to the ground. Mission accomplished! Then we rushed inside to leave Hoppie alone and Hoppie started to squawk for his mom. We couldn’t tell if he was happy or upset, but his mom certainly wasn’t coming. We went back outside for one more quick look and we counted: Three under our pine trees and one under a bush. Yay! That meant that they were all here: Hoppie, Nikki, Thunder, and Bolt. Then Peter and I walked around for some more magpie nests. We found one other nest with two adult magpies guarding it, away from where we lived. When we returned my mom had some bad news for us. Hoppie had gone missing AGAIN! When there were no adult magpies around we went outside to check. We found a trail of bird’s droppings and followed it but found no Hoppie. Then we heard some noise from out in the lane. Their we saw momma magpie stalking us.

Hoppie was sitting on that pot before disappearing, leaving us a trail of his droppings for clues

It started to look like it was going to rain so we headed back inside the yard. Just as we were going to enter the backyard, mom signaled us to stop. She signalled us to look where we found Hoppie earlier. There we saw Hoppie sitting under the very same bush where we found him this morning! We were relieved but at the same time we couldn’t help but wondering where that silly bird had gone.

When we went back inside the house it started to rain. While it rained Peter and I watched some YouTube videos until it lit up and the sun came out. We looked through the window and saw all four magpies together as the first time. Yay! Peter and I could relaxed now so we went to his house to play some video games. Not much excitements from the birds for the rest of the day. But I noticed their personalities began to show. Thunder: the restless kid, Bolt: the follower, Hoppie: the anti-social boy, and Nikki: the lazy, happy-go-lucky girl. Thunder and Bolt were already starting to make flying attempts. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were the first to fly.

Through the kitchen window we could see all four magpie chicks together for the first time!

Today has been a good day with lots of twists and turns but it all came down to a happy ending.

To be continued...

~~ Day Four: June 25, 2012 (Monday) ~~

I had school today so I didn’t get to see much of the birds. Not only I had to go to school, but I had to carry about 10 tons of stuff back from school, in a big bin! I had a broken arm so I had to call mom to pick me up because I could not carry my things home with one arm.

An x-ray of my arm in a full length cast

When we got home mom filled me in on the details of the birds. She told me Thunder was in trouble. She explained that my dad had accidentally scared all the poor chicks up into our pine trees. One of them, Thunder, got so scared that he went all the way to the top of one pine tree then up to our neighbor’s tree that’s even taller than ours.

You can see two out of three chicks in the lower part of the pine tree. But...

You can't see Thunder in this picture but believe me, he was almost all the way to the top!

I wanted to help this poor bird badly but mom said we couldn’t do much because he was too high up in the tree. I asked if we could call the animal rescue people, but she said they would only come if the bird was injured. I felt hopeless so I called Peter because I knew he would understand how I felt. Unfortunately he wasn’t home yet. I couldn’t wait so I walked towards his school hoping to meet him halfway, but I somehow missed him. When I got home, my mom said that Peter had called and asked for me. I returned his call, only to find out he had horseback riding that evening! I felt alone. What was I going to do? My mom realized how upset I was so she explained to me that how Thunder went up that tree didn’t spell complete catastrophe as long as his parents continued to feed him. Since he was in this very tall tree it might be easier for him to earn how to fly. Once I heard that explanation I felt a little bit better.

At about six o’clock Peter came and asked if I wanted to go biking. I agreed and off we went. When we went into the back lane, we were surprised to see that my mom was there observing the birds. She said that Thunder had just got fed by a parent. Mom seemed to be satisfied with the outcome so she went home when Peter and I continued to ride our bikes.

Ten minutes later, Peter and I saw Thunder on of our neighbor’s fence. Somehow he came down on his own! My mom said he was too exposed and that he might be seen by a crow. And as if Thunder could understand human language he continued to move until he was under the big tree.

Before Thunder moved under the tree he was widely exposed!

After a long bike ride Peter had to go home. I bid him farewell then went inside the house. Then my mom and I watched the birds in the side yard for a little. We the three chicks in the side yard: Hoppie was pacing back and forth between Bolt and Nikki, Bolt was bouncing around like a mad man while Nikki did what she did well - sunning herself.

Two of the three chicks on the side deck

Then the parents came to visit without food but immediately flew up to a tree, like they were trying to teach the chicks how to fly. The chicks were all confused especially Nikki that sounds like she was mad.

Bolt on the far side right behind Hoppie. Nikki was the first one spotted Momma and she began to squawk and flap her wings like crazy

After their parents left, the chicks became very excited, even Nikki seemed like she wanted to move around a bit more than usual. Bolt was busy making flying attempts. Then it began to get dark. Nikki waddled under the pine trees followed by a bouncing Hoppie. Bolt was still trying to fly then suddenly we saw him taking off and gliding all the way from the garden into the pine trees.

Bolt took off from the pile of red bricks and glided towards the pine trees for the night

Then all was quiet. It was a spectacular day. But I only feel sad for Thunder who will be spending a cold & lonely night by himself.

More to come...

~~ Day Five: June 26, 2012 (Tuesday) ~~

Another very rainy day and I had to go to school, yet I was pretty excited because summer would be here in just two days. I kept thinking how fun it would be to watch the chicks again. But when I got home, looked at the back yard, and realized all of the chicks had gone missing! Where could have they all gone? My mom came downstairs and told me that the magpie parents had moved the chicks to our next door neighbor’s yard. I was a little upset when I heard about that. Since my Dad did scare the chicks up into our neighbor’s tree, the magpie parents must believe our yard was no longer safe, it did make sense for the magpie parents to move them.

The chicks were gone and even the trees looked lonely!

My mom told me that she had actually heard the chicks around 5 in the morning. She heard a lot of kerfuffle (kerfuffle is just an expression meaning disorder, agitation, or commotion) but she was too tired to get up to look. When she finally came downstairs to check the chicks they were gone. She went out to the lane to look for them but saw only two adult magpies on the roof top of our neighbor’s house. There were two dark shadows emerging from the back side of the roof. She first thought they were the chicks but then she realized they were crows! The crows were inching towards the magpie parents while the brave Momma magpie stood her ground. If those crows were trying to push the magpie parents they were up to no good!

Face off time!

Not knowing exactly what was going on, Mom looked down and saw Nikki all curled up on a ledge of a fence outside our yard. When Mom approached Nikki she didn’t even bother to move. She was too wet and miserable to care.

Mom found Nikki!

But momma magpie didn’t like what she saw so she sounded an alarm it was then Nikki waddled away as fast as she could, towards the chain link fence.

Nikki heeded her mother's advice and began to run, I mean, waddle!

After Nikki went under the bush by the chain link fence, Mom continued to look for the missing chicks. At one point she heard noises from our neighbor’s tree. She looked up and found Thunder still in the same tree that he went up yesterday! He was also wet and frightened. But there was no sign of Hoppie. Mom decided to come home to wait it out.

An hour later there was a ruckus coming from our backyard. Mom went to the kitchen to have a look. To her surprise, she saw Hoppie in our backyard, squawking his head off, trying to locate his parents and siblings. His calls were answered by papa magpie who then tried to encourage him to fly.

Hoppie on top of the recycling bin, trying to figure out this flying business

Hoppie made a few attempts and finally took off and glided just like what Bolt did yesterday. Speaking of Bolt, he was still missing. Mom thought he now could fly and was on his own. She was proven right when she later saw two adult magpies flying with one fledgling, and that could be our missing Bolt.

When I got home my mom showed me the video she made of the birds. I saw the clip where Hoppie glided across the yard into the pine trees. Hoppie was always my favorite (and he has always been awesome) so I was very proud of him. But then the video ended because my mom had to leave for a dental appointment at that time. When my Mom got home Hoppie had disappeared again. Disappearing seemed to be Hoppie's best trick so I was not surprised at all!

As I was wondering what happened after Mom left for her appointment, we heard a commotion from the back lane so we went to investigate. We saw Nikki waddling down the back lane into someone's backyard. There was not much going on so Mom and I came home for a break.

Nikki in someone's yard checking out a flip flop

When all was quiet, Mom went out for one last check. She said Nikki was out waddling down the lane again while Thunder somehow found his way down from the tree.

Thunder managed to get down from the tree but looking lost

Then a welcoming sound came from our next door neighbor’s yard. It was Hoppie! He must have jumped the fence earlier and ended up in there! Our neighbor had a little dog but lucky for Hoppie the dog was kept inside the house because of the rain. As for Bolt, I bet he is out there somewhere, enjoying his new found freedom.

Mom came in with a smile on her face. We knew the chicks were no longer under our protection. I know I will still see them every now and then, until they become adults and find themselves territories. Some people may say magpies are ugly and annoying but they are part of our food chain and eco-system. If people take their time to observe they will find beauty in even the smallest things. My encounter with the magpie chicks was short but these birds will stay in my memory forever. Hoppie, Nikki, Thunder, and Bolt, I wish you the best. I hope one day you will grow up and raise your children and protect them like your courageous parents did for you. I have to close this short chapter of my book now but my love for magpies will stay open forever. Thank you my little fledglings, for making this summer a special one for me.

This is a grove where a lot of teenage magpies gather and play. I bet our fledglings will soon be there too.

I’d like to take time to thank all those wonderful magpies out there for being a great part of our world. Sometimes even small animals can do great things. I’d also like to thank my very good friend Peter Ursem for supporting me. And a big “thank” to my mom who helped me saved the magpies, took pictures, made videos, as well as editing my blog. Last but not least, I want to thank all of you for reading my blog. I hope I will see you in another STOW blog very soon.

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words...

Here are a few pictures that will help you to understand our journey better

The layout of our backyard:

The layout of the back lane where we rescued Thunder & Bolt:

What happened to the chicks after they were spooked. This picture was taken from the other end of the lane so our house is on the left instead of right:

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Magpie Tales - amazing journey of four young magpies (Animals)    -    Author : Kyle - Canada

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