Sophie has died
Our beautiful Sophie Magpie has passed away.
Yesterday afternoon, despite having shaken off the flu, Sophie still had her eye trouble, and after so long not feeding herself and only eating bread and cheese, was looking shaky on her legs. Also yesterday was, after a warm dry spell, both continuously raining and very cold. She also refused to come down from the bank (about four feet high) to our back yard for food, and we had to throw it up onto the bank for her.
Looking back upon late yesterday, I think she knew she would not see out the night. She wouldn't eat at all when I threw out the food, and only ate when Gitie also came out, as if she wanted to see both of us. She walked up to the fenceline, and the neighbour's horse, which shares the paddock with our magpies, came and leaned over, and put its nose only a few inches from Sophie, and they both looked each other in the eye and stayed like that for ten minutes or so, as if communing together. (For the cynics, the horse wasn't eating the grass!) Our other Magpie Billy's kids came and sang to Sophie, and her own younger brother and sister, Monty and Mindy, sang to her too. She had a good feed as the darkness slowly fell. We went back inside because she looked as if she wanted some quiet time to eat without distraction before it went dark.
When I get up each morning since Sophie became sick, I look out the bathroom window expecting to see her waiting patiently for us to come and feed her. (The healthy birds are usually out doing their own thing and only come to the door when they see us open it.) But when I got up this morning, I knew in advance that I was opening the window to verify that Sophie was not there. And as I feared, the bank was empty. There were no birds around at all, and I went looking for Sophie. At the front gate I met the rest of Maggie's gang, but no Sophie. When I walked back towards the house along the top of the bank, under the mulberry tree that she loved so much, I found her on the ground. The cold and wet had been too much for her weakened constitution. If you look at photos of the tree on this site, you will see that there is a lower bush growing under the tree, so it is enclosed and private, and many of our magpies, including Maggie, love that tree as a closed and private space. Sophie obviously chose to go there for the same reason.
Gitie and I put Sophie's body into a shoebox (it's just right for a magpie). We shall give her a burial somewhere in the land she loved so much. But a few minutes ago, yet another amazing thing happened. Maggie and gang came to the back yard for some bread and cheese, and darling Monty, whose fine deeds I have told you about before, took a piece of cheese, and walked up the bank and into the private space where Sophie had died, and left the cheese in the spot! A crow came and ate it, but Monty had made his last noble gesture for his older sister whom he loved so much.