magpie – CLICK TO HEAR MAGPIE CALL FROM ‘THE SOUNDS OF SEYCHELLES’
It is truly a privilege to not only work with, but live with one of the most charismatic bird species in the Seychelles. I find myself smiling at least once a day at the antics of one Magpie individual or another hopping around curiously while sporting a glistening ‘tuxedo’ and squabbling with one or all of its immediate family members. They are highly territorial and have no qualms in wrestling with intruders who step over their boundary lines. The demonstrating, ‘puffing up’ and performance is very entertaining and is worth a photograph or two. The juveniles are without a doubt the boldest and will hop closely from branch to branch after you in the inevitability that you disturb a juicy bug from under a leaf. Another crafty food source is available from ambushing a skink too big to swallow but stealing his tail after traumatising it to drop it! Naughty birds, but full of personality and definatley the smartest birds I have ever come across!
But this is not the only reason they are so special. The Seychelles Magpie Robin (Copsychus sechellarum) was Critically Endangered not too long ago and came very close to extinction. The species was historically recorded on at least seven islands in the Seychelles but was only found on Fregate Island in the 1980′s. Habitat loss, alien invasive predators and human negligence caused this brush with extinction. Fortunately a recovery plan was implemented by Birdlife International and now 20 years on the population is stable and carefully monitored and managed by Seychelles Magpie-Robin Recovery Team stakeholders and island owners.
Cousine Island currently has a total of 33 Magpie’s which are monitored carefully and managed accordingly. 10 New nest boxes have been put up this week for the purpose of providing comfortable and safe environments for breeding. New water points are being built and will be installed soon. The Magpie’s are provided with fresh water which is changed every couple of days. These carefully constructed water points are protected from excess bird droppings and wallowing skinks.
We love the Magpie’s on Cousine and provide them with as much care and attention (as much as they allow!) in order to safeguard them from ever being so close to extinction ever again.