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Save on energy or save a magpie - which is better?

Yesterday, I was faced with a dilemma. I was working on my computer, and it was getting dark, but I had my curtains drawn back to use the last of the day light and save on energy by putting off turning on my 11W CFL table light. The window in my room faces out onto my balcony. Suddenly, a magpie I had been feeding for 2 years came to check out the latest loot. I had some water and food out. I always feel that the magpie is training me to give it food and go away - it always comes and croaks something when the food is not out, but always escapes when I come into view.

In order to let the magpie eat and drink, I would have to draw the curtains, not to scare it away, but then I would lose the sunlight and would have to turn on the table light. Faced with the dilemma of which is the greener thing to do, I decided to leave the curtains drawn back and not turn on the light, going by Spock's "the good of the many." What would you have done?


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    Feb 23 2011: Feeding wildlife is a bad habit for both. At best, the animal learns to depend on and not fear humans. That will likely lead to harm for it. The things we often try to feed wildlife, are not a normal healthy part of their diet. Feeding wildlife also leads to undesired and unexpected results by attracting other animals that may not co-exist as well. Feeders often become disease vectors and have been traced to many wildlife problems. Magpies, like all corvids, are very smart birds and will "game" a situation for all it is worth in my experience.

    No question, throw the curtain open and let in that sunlight. You'll be saving the magpie too in a sense. The magpie will learn to fit in in the background and I dare say put on a more interesting show as it goes about its normal behavior and fares better in the long run. My two cents.
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      Feb 23 2011: This was in a busy urbanized area. I think it was the magpie's turf. You make a good point about feeding wildlife, but I sometimes think that it may be OK with animals who have adapted to human environments, like cockroaches or domesticated animals.
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        Feb 24 2011: Unfortunately, we do feed cockroaches unintentionally with bad results. I think better to keep the magpies lean and foraging on their own where they might help curb some of those urban adapted species. Magpies, like other corvid species, are attracted to human activities and take advantage of the waste we leave available. A classic example is the artificial water sources and landfills that have allowed ravens to follow us as we spread out across the SW desert area of California. Once they arrive, the find other species, such as young dispersing desert tortoises to be easy prey leading to population declines. Unintended results but predictable given our practices. Magpies can impact other bird species by robbing their nests, especially in urban environments where artificially high numbers may be supported.

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