Thu, Sep 13, 2012 - Page 5 News List

Family befriends a magpie with strange affinity for slippers

By Hsieh Yin-chung, and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

A Formosan blue magpie plays with a pair of blue-and-white slippers belonging to the Lin family in Chiayi County’s Jhuci Township on Friday last week.

Photo: Hsieh Yin-chung, Taipei Times

A family surnamed Lin (林) living in Chiayi County’s Jhuci Township (竹崎) recently made an odd acquaintance: a magpie that does not shy away from humans and appears to have a particular interest in blue-and-white slippers.

The Lin family lives close to Jhuci Cinshuei Park, an area that attracts a lot of birds.

Nearly three months ago, the family spotted a Formosan blue magpie in their yard. That species of magpie is endemic to Taiwan and is currently listed as a protected species

The Lin family said they often see sparrows or doves in their garden, but unlike those birds, which fly away when people come near them, the magpie was not at all afraid of people and could be fed and even petted lightly.

It does fly away if anyone makes any abrupt movement, the Lin family said.

The Formosan blue magpie is omnivorous and eats everything from snakes and mice to insects and fruits, so the Lin family said they rarely feed it anything and leave it alone so it would feel more at home. The magpie visits the Lins in the morning and then flies away at night, they added.

After spending some time with the bird, the Lin family found that it seemed fascinated by blue-and-white slippers, and would jump and play around the ankles of whoever wore a pair.

Commenting on the bird’s interest, the township office’s veterinarian, Hsu Wei-chih (許偉智), said that it was possible that the magpie was interested in the slippers because it thought that they were another magpie due to their similar coloring.

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