Why do people love to hate the magpie?
I must confess to spending a large amount of time watching and photographing these birds. Last year I was fortunate enough to observe the parents of a deceased magpie as they held a funeral for the chick they’d lost. A large crowd of these corvids gathered under a pine tree where the nest had been, and on the third day, I buried the body once the funeral appeared to have concluded.
Often the first thing said is that they kill other birds and steal the eggs. Sometimes. But they also clean up large amounts of roadkill and last year, played a roll in controlling the grasshopper epidemic that plagued us throughout summer.
Magpies are capable of understanding that a mirror image belongs to their own body—a cognitive behavior in animals so far only demonstrated by apes, dolphins, and elephants. Then again, they have an extremely large brain size to relative weight, even larger than the African Grey parrot.
I find them to be quite human excepting for their lack of artifice. And maybe that’s what I like about them. Unlike humans, they do what they do and they don’t pretend to be something else. I can accept that, even the cruel bits that I don’t like to observe.
It reminds me of a Mark Manson quote. It’s better to be hated for who you are than be loved for who you aren’t.