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Dini and the Magpie

Diane Prather

When Lyle and I were newlyweds, we lived in Sterling for a month, where Lyle was working, and then a month later we moved to Timnath, a small town just outside of Fort Collins. Lyle was going to begin work on a degree from Colorado State University, and I was continuing to teach at Highland High School in Ault.

Pipi's Pasture

We moved into a small, low-rent house at a dairy farm on the edge of Timnath, where each of us was not far from our daily travels. A young gray cat moved there with us. I had picked him from a litter of spring kittens at a home while in Sterling. We named him “Dini,” short for “Houdini” (because he was an escape artist).

Although Dini was a housecat, I let him out for periods of time during the day. When we first moved to the property there were lots of grasshoppers hopping around on tall weeds that had grown up in the garden and yard behind the house while it was vacant. Dini enjoyed catching the grasshoppers. When he was chasing grasshoppers in the back, I didn’t worry about Dini. The front yard was another matter.



A paved street (complete with a stop light) ran through town and right past our house so I watched Dini diligently to make sure that he didn’t get out on the street. Then one day a magpie showed up. The bird spent a lot of time in some bushes that bordered the yard to the south, and, as is common with magpies, he was a “heckler.”

When Dini walked by the bushes or explored the front porch, the magpie was right there, making magpie sounds. Dini was intrigued. Perhaps he thought catching the bird was like catching grasshoppers. Whatever he thought, he began to follow the magpie. The bird didn’t fly off; he walked in front of Didi, just keeping far enough ahead of the cat to insure he would follow.



The magpie acted like he knew exactly what he was doing; he led the cat onto the street and across to the other side. I was horrified. I ran after Dini, gathered him up, and put him in the house. The magpie flew off, but the next day he was back. By now I was wise as to the magpie’s intentions — no matter his reasons — so I kept watch when Dini was outside and chased his heckler off. I don’t remember how long the magpie was around, but I do remember it was awhile, and always the bird “talked” to Dini, and if he got a chance, he tried luring the cat off—always walking right in front of him.

Magpies have always been around in various places I’ve lived (not so much here at Pipi’s Pasture), and I have never seen a cat kill one – or eat a dead one for that matter. This year, however, my brother Duane (Osborn) told me that one of his barn cats killed a magpie and even ate on it. That’s a first.

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