Compassion for a Magpie

I thought of this post today because I am in charge of feeding the juvenile magpie that my neighbour rescued. The little guy is moving around a lot more today and is eating very well. Soon he’ll be old enough to survive on his own. Here’s a video of the rescued magpie singing its melodious song:

And here’s a re-post of Compassion for a Magpie

A magpie up on my garage’s eaves trough.

As you may or may not know, depending on where you live, a [black-billed] magpie is a black and white bird with long tail feathers which looks a bit like a crow. When the sun shines on the magpie, its dark feathers are iridescent, appearing to be blue, purple and green all at once. The magpie doesn’t have a sweet, musical voice. It screeches and chases songbirds, even eating other birds’ eggs when the opportunity comes along. It flies behind cats, cawing loudly and snipping at their tails.

Listen to me read this post:

Around here, anyway, magpies are not well-liked. We have a few in our yard for a couple of reasons. They enjoy the suet I put out for other birds, and they are extremely fond of the eggshells they find in the compost bin. Both the suet and the shells are valuable sources of protein. There are also quite a few tall trees in our neighbourhood which provide excellent shelter and nesting habitat. And so, for now, the magpies are here to stay.

A sunflower in my backyard – a memory of warmer days.

Just yesterday, one magpie of a mating pair was injured. It lay in the grass struggling to lift its head while the other circled about, cawing and seemingly urging the other to stand or to fly.

I could feel the uninjured bird’s distress at the situation of its mate. The healthy bird was clearly agitated, quite frantic, and I thought “Not so different than us.”

There’s no feeling more frustrating than that feeling of helplessness and useless restlessness in the face of suffering – especially the suffering of someone we love. As I watched the magpies in this difficult circumstance, I recognized and understood their suffering as no different from my own.

A magpie perched strategically over the compost bins below.

I couldn’t watch nature take its course, and I don’t know for sure if the injured magpie went on to live or to die. I looked away and closed the curtains in response to the stab of pain in my heart. It was silly, after all, to feel so deeply the pain of another – especially one so despised and at times so despicable. What did I need that for when I already have enough sorrow of my own?

It’s true that we cannot easily take on all the sorrows of the world, nor can we single-handedly cure all the injustices, illnesses, and injuries. But the magpies made me consider that perhaps if I could just open my heart a bit wider to see and hold the suffering of others that I may be better equipped to deal with my own. If I can accept the magpies’ suffering – both the injury and the distress – then perhaps I can also better accept my own suffering and that of all living creatures. With a more open heart, perhaps next time I won’t need to look away.

Hughenden Sky

2 Comments on “Compassion for a Magpie”

  1. “As I watched the magpies in this difficult circumstance, I recognized and understood their suffering as no different from my own.”

    Great, and important, observation. One that, sadly, puts you seemingly ahead of many people. During America’s little “venture” into Iraq, I remember seeing a TV news story that showed weeping parents picking up their dead infants and toddlers from a cart heaped with bodies of children. I thought “Surely, SURELY, parents the world over will empathize, will weep with these people who share this central experience–parenthood–and will insist on, march for, DEMAND an end to this greedy grab for power in the quest for oil. But I was wrong.

    Thanks for speaking out, for reminding people that we have a kinship to the core with ALL living things.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your comment, Amy. It hit a sad, soft spot in my heart, though. I have to believe that most of us can feel our relationship to all other beings. It’s a matter of getting under all that other “stuff” that covers it up. That’s the difficulty. That’s the struggle.


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