A Cranky Magpie and the Bossy Birds

Does this guy look cranky?

I see a sort of ill-tempered look of frustrated entitlement in his eyes, but then it might just be me. He has been sitting outside my back door, singing up a storm for two hours now; hoping that I will come out yet again and proffer another morsel of mince for his impatient enjoyment.

Earlier this evening, a large group of cockatoos swooped over the house, screeching and squawking and demanding my attention to the empty seed tray.

Birds here in Brisbane can be raucous and demanding.

And it is all my fault.

It took me a year to entice the birds into my yard.

First I put out seed in a tray and it stayed ignored until the rain swelled the seeds into a soggy mess.

When ducks wandered across the garden and closed in on the house, I threw them some bread until they flew off in a startled huff.

I left honeyed milk for the lorikeets and it dried up in the sun.  

When spring came and the magpies brought their insistent young to the house and accepted our proffered meat morsels, I was ecstatic. I fed them every time they came around, excited to see them.

Soon the magpies told their friends, and we had butcher birds catching meat in mid-air, cockatoos congregating for noisy parties by the seed tray on our lawn and galahs and lorikeets flying in for a quick bite. Even the ducks brought their babies by for some bread. I looked forward to my grandchildren visiting and feeding them too.

I loved it but here is the problem.

While the birds are sitting outside my door waiting to be fed, they are not learning to hunt and forage for their own food. I have set up an expectation. What happens if I go away for a few weeks? Could any of them die?

 Sometimes we have relationships in our life like this. We want to help and maybe even should help, but not for too long and not for things people can do themselves. We take away their agency, their growth, and maybe even their dignity.

Children especially, need to learn to clean up their own mess, fight most of their own battles, and be accountable for mistakes.

It makes them stronger and more resilient. It makes them happier people.

Is there any relationship in your life where you are helping someone into dependence? Is anyone taking away your power by doing too much for you?

Maybe it is time to consider a small change.

I still love feeding the birds but I will cut it down to once a day. Hopefully the magpie will stop sitting around looking cranky and drop by just once a day with his biggest smile. Maybe the cockatoos will stop being as demanding and go back to being playful.

That would make me happy too.

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