Magpie Robins aren’t magic tricks

I was shocked when I saw David Copperfield take to the skies on a television show. I couldn’t understand how he did it. Although, back then, the disappearing thumb trick had me tearfully confused too. I was about 7 years old. It was bewildering to see someone defy the laws of physics.

Soon after, I attended a few magic shows held in Chennai. I grew “curiouser and curiouser” about their powers. They seemed to control the forces of nature. And they kept challenging my perception of time and space.

I convinced myself that comic book superheroes were based on white-skinned versions of Indian magicians like the flamboyant PC Sorcar or the ubiquitous P James. And I started looking up to them. I believed they could rid the world of its troubles if they weren’t busy enthralling crowds.

A few years later, the art of magic revealed itself to be a disappointing optical illusion. The secret compartment. The hidden card. The terrified rabbit. The trickery was loud and clear.

I blame it on puberty. It ripped the magic out of me. Filled my insides with delusions of inadequacies. Dimmed the twinkle in my eyes. I prioritised a bunch of things over the sheer joy of discovery. Some call it the loss of innocence. I like to think of it as the death of wonderment and the birth of a new order of deception.

Thankfully, the songs of birds never deceive. For instance, when I hear a distinct and beautiful whistling sound, I know for sure that Oriental Magpie Robins are lurking nearby.

I may not have a clue about what goes on in their tiny heads. I don’t know the lyrics to any of their songs. And I am a few months away from turning 35. However, finding an Oriental Magpie Robin in the middle of a melody certainly feels like magic to me.

“Where’s my stash
of sunshine,” 
a magpie robin;

“can I have a word
with the wind
at least,” asked he.

“Get your head
out of the clouds,”

chimed the cicada,
still in his beak,
“put me down
and walk away
from me”.

(Photographs: Chennai, Kodaikanal)

37 thoughts on “Magpie Robins aren’t magic tricks

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  1. Really good, I especially like the last four lines,

    I was at first somewhat confused because I’ve never heard of a Magpie-Robin and because my brief glance at the picture I assumed it was a Magpie as in a Eurasian Magpie, but from what I’ve just read the Magpie-Robin is not related to the Eurasian Magpie at all, so I’m assuming the Magpie part of the name came from it’s appearance.
    In Britain if you had to pick the two birds with the most folklore surrounding them it would most probably be the Magpie and the Robin, both equally individual and fascinating, I love them both.
    Is there any particular folklore surrounding the Magpie-Robin I wonder, I wondering if there is a part of your I’m not quite getting because of a unique cultural reference.
    Either way I enjoyed the read and the subsequent trip into wikipedia to learn something new, much obliged.
    Also thank you for the follow on my blog earlier, I’m pleased to be able to discover your blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is overwhelming, it really is. Thank you muchly for dropping by so often and saying such lovely things.

      I am too much of a simpleton to understand how to write these award posts, but until I figure that out, I nominate you for Keeper of the keys of the universe. When it is time, please lock up and leave one of your beautiful haikus behind

      Liked by 1 person

      1. 🙂 You’re welcome.
        Keeper of the universe? That’s a mighty responsibility. I think you would be better suited honestly.
        Think I’ll post another haiku soon though because of your kind compliment. Thank you.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. She IS magic! Back in the mid-90’s before I was so into birds, I used to hear her singing from the top of a tree outside my apartment window in Malaysia. I chased her as often as I could to get a video recording to play for myself later when I was no longer there. She and the mynas (morning ‘alarm clocks’) are what take me back to those days. Thanks, Christy for your beautiful, magical post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww how precious is that. Some Indian Mynahs are also experts in mimicry. They apparently impersonate the birds in the area, confusing predators and birders!

      Thank you for the kind words again, Shannon ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Boy O Boy am I glad to have visited this post!!!
    The Oriental Magpie Robin is officially my favourite bird. 🙂 I’ve even got a name for him/her, wherever I see him/her/them. Magnus Riente Kyuto Pie 🙂
    There’s a story behind it, but suffice to say, here, that he helped me get back on my feet, and find motivated me no end during a session of treatment I had to undergo at an Ayurveda Nursing Home. Every morning, unfailingly he’d trill, and sing, and call out to me, if I hadn’t come out to the balcony/veranda to greet him. It went on for 2 whole weeks, and that was when my interest in birds grew 🙂
    So thank you, so much, for the delightful, meaningful verse and the loveliness of the pictures, Magnus himself/herself 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Woaw. Seriously. That’s so fantastic to know! And it’s a beautiful reason to start birding, that your sensed the magpie’s love before he did. I hope you have many positive and blessed experiences with birds!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. If I may take up a bit more space here, since I find that connection so strong to my Magnus with this post, I just want to add a bit about what happened a couple of months after that, on a rainy windy hillside, at night,where I was with my son, his wife and their baby daughter, out for a short drive. There, in the middle of the road, was an owl, a small child-sized one, that seemed winded and out of sorts. That it allowed me to pick it up, before it was run over, and sat in the back seat of the car, till we could take it to some trees, where it nudged my son, before taking off, was another miracle.

        Sorry. Couldn’t help but share that here 🙂 There is so much of love I sense for the birds and words, that it is spontaneous, this sharing 🙂 Do excuse me 🙂 God Bless!

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Magicians, deceptions and childhood – so true… initially I stood awed by their power.. then avoided them for fear 😉 … despised them later for deceiving…. eventually started admiring them for their ability to deceive …how have I changed and your words made me think of it all!

    Every time I drop in here I leave with a satisfied smile! Your words are magical …. they transcend ..know not where…but it feels really good!

    Loved those lines on puberty … I found myself reading it again n again and …reading it again after finishing the whole content! Loved the verse too!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can picture the fear! Imagine if ghouls like Cris Angel and David Blaine were alive back then. I would have been terrified! (Smile)

      I am glad I helped jog a memory or two, dear friend, it’s a pleasure to have you stop by and leave your footprints. Thank you for the kindness and the encouragement (big smile).


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