A couple of days later, I received another report. Both Mr and Mrs Magpie had been observed (he with a bright white back-of-neck, upper tail and shoulders, hers grey) coming and going to the nest, bringing in food. My research since suggests Mr may have been bringing food for Mrs rather than the chicks. The parents also seemed to be clearing out the nest. If there are any Australian Magpie specialists out there who can confirm this behaviour, I'd be grateful. 20 August saw almost continuous rain in Brisbane for several hours. Mrs Magpie sat over the nest acting as an umbrella while Dad sat on the sidelines (a branch to one side of the nest where I have seen him sit since), as if wondering what to do. His chief job of course is to protect the new mother and her babies, and any other females with newborns in his patch.
This was very exciting news and I couldn't wait to get back before the chicks fledged. Incubation of the eggs lasts about 20 days, and the young stay in the nest for about four weeks after hatching.
There's now a lot of activity. The chicks are clearly visible, practising wing-spreading but within the confines of the nest. They're also preening themselves. They rear up to such an extent at times that they seem about to hop on to the branch alongside the nest where Mr Magpie sits. And there are definitely three. Mr and Mrs, especially Mr, seem less in evidence. It cannot be long before the chicks venture out...
I really never thought I'd become a birdwatcher.