We used to have this bird named "Spork".
Sometimes he was named "Pogo" because he didn't have enough legs. (he always didn't have enough legs, he just wasn't always called pogo (that sounds suspiciously like something Clevinger (Catch 22) might say)) (and what's with all the nested parenthesis?)))
Spork lived in a sectioned off bit of the house near my desk where I spent most of the day, so we got pretty close. As close as a human that really likes magpies can get to a magpie that almost always hates humans. I say "almost", because if you turned him on his back with his one leg in the air, he would relax so much you could push him around on the floor like a kid playing with a matchbox car. If you tried that when he was upright, he'd peck your eyes out in a heartbeat. One of his fast bird heartbeats as well, not some dopey slow human heartbeat. Except Shaan when she offered Spork her (maybe smurf) keyring. Sporked liked Shaan and her keyring.
Anyway... I would whistle "Doo, du do du, and he would instantly reply "Do du do, du dooo do". It was almost as if he could help himself. He had to finish the tune. (I originally taught him the entire tune, but it took the first few notes for him to realise that it was time to sing)
We had to give him up when we had to move back to the flat lands from Cudlee Creek. We also miss all the other creatures we shared our lives with (a goat, an emu, a pig, three sheep, an owl, and various chickens) all still missed terribly.
Anyway... Some nice bird rescue people took in Spork to live with all their other magpies, a magpie loving dog that protected them all from foxes, and a parrot that nobody could understand because it spoke too fast. I suggested it was horse race calling as a result of being pre-owned by a gambler with a radio, and there was a general agreement that that might just be the case.
Really odd sulphur crested cockatoo.
But... it occurred to me that Spork now lived only 30 km away as the crow flies.
That's only 5 magpie families or so. The other night I found myself trying to teach my local magpies the first (my) half of the tune so they might in turn teach the next groups radiating out from them. I managed to add one extra note to the current call of my local group, but interestingly I managed to get a complete (my half) call from a group further in the distance.
So, so far so good. So, so. You don't see the word "so" followed by the word "so" that much.
And... once I teach the local magpies the first half of the tune and get them to teach the next closets magpies( and so on, and so on), in 5-30 years or so, I hope to hear the second half of the tune (Spork's half) in reply.
If so, I expect a Nobel prize for developing very slow, organic, analogue communication, and creating the first "bird meat" based communication protocol that doesn't require tying things to their feet.