As a little girl, I loved waking to the sound of the birds.
Jumping up, I’d peer out my window trying to spot them, then whistle, hoping to draw them closer.
When I finally flew my own parent’s nest, my love for birds didn’t end.
But my new backyard was so quiet with not a chirp, whistle or crow around.
I don’t know if I’m ready for this, I thought, feeling lonely.
Then one day, I was out in the garden when I heard a pretty birdsong.
Crouching down, I slowly extended my arm.
‘Hi buddy,’ I said, gently stroking his feathers with the back of my hand.
Tilting his head back, he suddenly started singing at the top of his lungs.
I couldn’t stop smiling, knowing that I wasn’t alone anymore.
The next day, I heard that same song coming through my window.
Running outside, I was greeted by the same scruffy magpie, snuggling up in my boots at the door.
‘Back again,’ I giggled.
I think you need a name, I pondered.
‘Boots!’ I decided.
For the next few weeks, Boots would greet me each day with his song and I’d race out to say hello and give him a scratch.
‘I’ve missed you,’ I said.
Leaning in, he stuck his beak out towards my face, then he rubbed it against my nose.
Just like an Eskimo kiss! I thought. Boots missed me too!
People are often afraid of magpies, but I think the birds are misunderstood.
‘They’re just trying to protect their babies,’ I tell anyone who will listen.
Amazingly, their intelligence level is thought to be equivalent to that of a four-year-old child.
Boots must have shared the news about my yard with others, as soon more magpies flocked to my place, then a few more... and a few more!
Grabbing a cuppa one day, I walked out to have a chat with my feathered friends, wondering how many there would be.
Swinging open the door, I gulped.
Dozens of beady eyes were staring back at me!
They were sitting in the trees, on the fence and even on my clothesline.
‘Welcome to Magpie Manor,’ I laughed.
Instantly, my loneliness flew away.
These aren’t evil birds, I thought, wanting to change everyone’s perception about magpies.
So I came up with a plan to document their gentle side.
Opening the door, I filmed Boots gliding towards me and delicately landing on my arm.
Then I posted it on my new instagram page, @themagpiewhisperer.
Next, I spread a towel out on the lawn and when Boots dozed off in the sun next to me, I snapped some photos.
He was always the first one to join in my activities and his favourite was sunbathing!
In fact, Boots even made himself at home waltzing around inside with his chest puffed.
‘You act as if you own the place!’ I joked.
Now Boots’ cheeky behaviour has started to rub off on the other birds.
Going out to collect my washing one day, I found magpies swinging upside down from my towels, happily singing.
‘You guys aren’t bats!’ I laughed, filming them playing.
After I posted it online it went viral! Now I post all their magpie mischief to educate people about their kind side and how we can live peacefully together.
Like Aussies, magpies stick by their family and mates.
There’s also now evidence they can recognise human faces for many years. They know which ones don’t pose a risk and can form friendships with them.
Three years on, my garden is swarming with magpies every day.
There are 10 regulars who call my yard their home, but dozens more stop by.
As for Boots, he now has a girlfriend called Whiskers and she’s currently creating a nest nearby.
‘You’re going to be a dad!’ I tell him, excited.
And I’ll be like a proud grandparent!