The Difference between Magpies and Chooks

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by Neil Godfrey

I have moved to a new residence and am thrilled to see that we still have magpies as company. I know we are not supposed to feed wildlife but, well, we are not supposed to eat much chocolate, either. Once in a while I was so taken by the magpies where we lived that I could not resist the occasional giving them a handout of a few crumbs. A few were so bold as to approach me within touching distance and when I held out my hand with some bread crumbs they looked at me “just to be sure I knew what I was doing” before crocking their heads sideways so that their beaks would pick up the crumbs with a sideways approach. Thus they avoided the risk of punching my hand with the sharp end of their beaks.

I was reminded how as a child I fed chooks and how they would just peck peck peck away into the palm of my hand without any thought of the punches they were inflicting.

Magpies? No, not like that at all. They would carefully turn their heads sideways to be sure that they lifted a crumb from my hand without any risk of their beak’s sharp end poking me. Magpies — humane, thoughtful, aware. Chooks — thoughtless, dumb.


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Neil Godfrey

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4 thoughts on “The Difference between Magpies and Chooks”

  1. In my locale, we don’t have magpies. For that, one needs to cross the mountain range to the east, into the semi-arid high plateau. Here, in the interior valley, highly urbanized, we have standard crows. I feed them, as I imagine many others do. I’ve incorporated them into my efforts to diminish the contents of my garbage roller bin. Dubious contents from the fridge are offered up on a sporadic basis. I suspect I am a food supply unit to one family of crows who visit on a semi-regular basis. Needless to say, I tried home chooks for about a decade before giving up on it entirely. I will confirm your hypothesis to that extent; that chooks are dumber than corvid birds. The crows here are smart and cagey, terms I would never use to describe chooks.

  2. Hi Neil, generally it is advised not to feed magpies bread, as it is not a natural part of their diet. We feed our Maggie’s during spring with a preparation from the supermarket called wombaroo insectivore, (crushed up mealworms), and occasional small pieces of meat, not mince. Incredibly intelligent they introduce us to their babies and keep in touch through the year. It is spring when they start demanding food from us for the babies then just friends for the rest of the year! Did you know that heckle and jeckle were originally magpies? They were later americanised into crows. That’s why they talk, magpies can learn many words as can parrots. Bread not good for birds, generally, ok in small amounts. Love their songs!

  3. And right on cue comes a notice from Rosa Rubicondior, Creationism In Crisis: From Where Did The Bible’s Authors Get The Idea That Humans Are Materially Different To Other Animals? And Why Were They Wrong?

    Or you can read it from the original source in The Conversation: Friday essay: from political bees to talking pigs – how ancient thinkers saw the human-animal divide.

    It’s by Julia Kindt, Professor, Department of Classics and Ancient History, University of Sydney

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