Over the last few months our Jack Russell ‘Milo’ has watched, with increased consternation and despair, a pair of magpies roosting high above him. Milo doesn’t have enemies except for birds. We think it is a form of jealousy. Milo doesn’t know he will never fly. Back on the farm we first noticed Milo’s efforts in trying to fly. He would spot birds perched high above him in trees. His flying trials were especially directed at cockatoos, and especially towards the silver crested ones.
They would soon learn his attempts were hopelessly and spectacularly futile and openly laughed at him, sometimes joined by a sole kookaburra. Poor Milo would only increase his flying efforts, jump up as high as possible, surprisingly high we thought. We often observed that when he jumped up very high that he seemed, just for a split second, to levitate, suspended momentarily in mid-air before falling back to earth.
When he spotted us watching him he would bravely and doggedly, and somewhat pathetically, increase his efforts. It was a bit cruel and we refrained from openly laughing at him, and indeed would withdraw behind the window inside our farm. This would allow him some privacy and we knew he would always finally come home inside where he would slink to his beloved Afghan carpeted covered cushion, sulk a bit (but not for long), we would then give him some defrosted chicken necks as a form of consolation. He might perhaps have felt, by chewing hard on those bird necks, some satisfaction of having conquered something with wings. (But alas, never through flight.)
Here at our new address the magpies really laid it on thick, swooping down on Milo making snapping sounds. They were protecting their eggs. To add injury to insult, they would cunningly wait for Milo to be inside (sulking), sweep down and steal his crunchy nibbles, his own food. Milo, behind the glass door, would fly into a rage, bark madly while looking at us, pleading to slide the door open, let him try and kill the black and white thief. The beady magpie eyes, cunningly staring back at Milo, knowing full well he was safe.
The story has a happy ending, at least for Milo. He got his comeuppance, or rather the magpies did. The tree that the magpies had their home in and where they had roosted so successfully a new brood of future Milo tormentors in was getting dangerously tall and big. “It is not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’ it will fall down and crush someone’s home, no matter what direction it will fall”, the Body Corporate stated solemnly at its yearly meeting. “This tree must go, and we already have a quote from the experts, including the grinding down of the stump and removal of all the branches and trunk through a large chipper”. Approval was overwhelming.
The day arrived when the team arrived with spiked boots. Milo, this time was just happy to watch from a safe distance. Limb by limb the tree was denuded and higher and higher the cutter climbed assisted by a winch and a dangling chain saw. The magpies were circling anxiously including the young ones. Finally, with Milo watching keenly, the birds gave up and all flew to a tree in the next allotment. We watched Milo’s triumph. He still can’t fly. Something we are careful never to point out.
We gave him an extra chicken neck!