Stumpy the Magpie

It’s grey and a bit dreary weather-wise here in Malvern at the moment. The hedgehogs are hibernating (probably our bats too), insects are few and far between and the moth trap’s been empty the last couple of times I’ve put it out.  We’ve not even had any frosts to provide sparkly, wintery photo ops. Fortunately the birds in our garden are plentiful and greedy, so the bird feeders have provided the main interest this month. Last week we had the excitement of the woodpecker on the peanuts.


This week we’ve turned out attentions and the trail camera towards the bird table. The bird table attracts a different set of birds to the hanging feeders, although the sparrows of course are the commonest on both. We have quite a large group of sparrows who use our garden (possibly as many as twenty, but they’re hard to count in the bushes) and at least half a dozen were using the bird table at any one time this weekend.


Back in October we had a pair of magpies that were regular visitors to the garden. One I nicknamed Stumpy because he had none of the long tail feathers he (or she) should have had. Here’s Stumpy on the bird table about a month ago.

I’ve no idea what happened to his tail, but you can clearly see the difference between Stumpy’s rear end and a “normal” magpie in the next video. These two often appear at the table together – perhaps mates, or parent and offspring, or siblings?

The lack of tail feathers doesn’t seem to impede his flight or balance at all and he seems otherwise perfectly healthy. A quick google revealed that his tail feathers should grow back. I’ve had the trail camera pointed at the hanging feeders for a couple of weeks, so it’s only been this weekend that it’s been pointing back at the bird table. A couple of magpies once again appeared to see what was on offer. One had broken tail feathers that looked a bit shorter than the others.

magpieIs this Stumpy with his tail feathers partially regrown? I really hope so. Whoever it was, they weren’t put off their lunch by the arrival of a large jackdaw.


The jackdaws are usually some of the first birds to appear when I restock the bird table. They always seem intelligent, shrewd birds. The one on the right here certainly wasn’t daft – he’d crammed at least 5 mealworms into his mouth before the other had got a look in.

jackdawsWe get at least 4 of them coming down to feed, although I’ve noticed one has an injured foot. He’s still eating OK, but not sure whether it will prove to be a fatal problem for him.


The blackbirds appreciate the bird table offerings as they are not very good on the hanging feeders. Fortunately they don’t mind sharing the table with the sparrows.


The robin on the other hand gets really quite grumpy when the sparrows land. Any larger birds and he just flies off, but with the sparrows he does his best to shoo them away.



Watching the birds like this in the garden for a while now, I feel we’ve got a small insight into some of their life stories. Stumpy with his tail loss and regrowth, the jackdaw family with an injured member, the territorial robin defending his patch of the table. Without the trail camera we’d probably still see all these birds, but miss some of the dynamics of what was going on in our garden. It’s been worth every penny spent and every hour spent watching the videos!

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