"Can one form a friendship with a magpie – even when adult males are protecting their nests during the swooping season? The short answer is: “Yes, one can” – although science has just begun to provide feasible explanation for friendship in animals, let alone for cross-species friendships between humans and wild birds.
Ravens and magpies are known to form powerful allegiances among themselves. In fact, Australia is thought to be a hotspot, for cooperative behaviour in birds worldwide. They like to stick together with family and mates, in the good Australian way.
Of course, many bird species may readily come to a feeding table and become tame enough to take food from our hand, but this isn’t really “friendship”. However, there is evidence that, remarkably, free-living magpies can forge lasting relationships with people, even without depending on us for food or shelter.
When magpies are permanently ensconced on human property, they are also far less likely to swoop the people who live there. Over 80% of all successfully breeding magpies live near human houses, which means the vast majority of people, in fact, never get swooped. And since magpies can live between 25 and 30 years and are territorial, they can develop lifelong friendships with humans. This bond can extend to trusting certain people around their offspring.
A key reason why friendships with magpies are possible is that we now know that magpies are able to recognise and remember individual human faces for many years. They can learn which nearby humans do not constitute a risk. They will remember someone who was good to them; equally, they remember negative encounters."
The Conversation - "Magpies can form friendships with people - here's how" October 3, 2017
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