A distressed magpie lark arrived on our back veranda in March of this year (’22). She fluttered around for a while, stopping every so often to peck furiously at her right foot. Alarmingly, we saw that her foot was bound tightly in a tangle of fine nylon blue thread. The toes on that foot were useless for standing or perching.
She flew up close to us and we guessed she was looking for help.
But try as we did, time and time again, to catch her — sometimes attempting to throw a soft towel over her — she would not allow herself to be captured.
To lure her closer, we presented some bird seed (Wild Bird Mix), which she ate quickly, although always wary of our too-close approach.
Days went by and Birdie (as I had started to call her) spent a lot of time on our veranda, still pecking vainly at the thread around the, by now, useless foot. It was a mystery as to how her foot had become so entangled in such a way.
She started anticipating the small pile of seeds we offered each day and would often be waiting at the glass back door when we came out at breakfast time.
As Birdie picked and picked at her mangled right foot, little by little — over months — some of the crippling thread came off. But it was too late. By now, one toe had withered and shrunk, the others bent and useless.
We became used to Birdie’s company when we sat out on the veranda. Through all seasons she would join us, perched one-legged on the back of a chair. We continued to leave small amounts of seed and, if we ever left any crumbs on the table after a meal, she would fly in and finish them off, always waiting for us to leave first.
She eventually started adjusting to her crippled foot and occasionally hopped using both feet, albeit with her right one a backwards facing stump.
For eight months or so we have had Birdie as our veranda companion and lately, guess what – she has brought along a boyfriend!
They are obviously a pair, and he often shares the seed we put out — sometimes being over-bossy and pushing Birdie out of the way, so that he can eat first. (!).
Now we are waiting to see if Birdie and her mate have a secret nest somewhere nearby and wonder if any offspring might make our back veranda a visiting place.
I feel sure that our Birdie story gives yet another indication of intelligence present in other creatures.
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