magpie presumably collecting goat's fur? goats are used for habitat management left on the island.
It could be collecting fur or even picking ticks etc. out of the goat's fur. However, corvids often use livestock as lookout posts, using the animal as a highpoint. This latter explanation is unlikely as I can see trees/bushes in the background and they tend to use animals as lookout posts where there is no alternative. Interesting observation.
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I see this all the time with deer. Given where the bird is on the anmal I'd say it was looking for ticks and other ectoparasites which prefer the front end of the animal in areaa where the skin is thinner. The deal isn't quite as good as it seems for the animal with the ticks. While birds will take recently attached ticks what they're really looking for is big fat bloated ticks full of blood as this is rather more nutritious than the lump of inedible chitin that a hungry tick is. Basically a fat tick is the magpie's black pudding.
When my mum used to brush our dog's coat (he was fairly long haired) she would leave the clumps of hair out on the lawn and the birds would come to pick it up for nesting material in Spring. But i've never seen birds taking hair directly from the animal. Corvids are considered very intelligent birds, although I doubt they'd try to pluck hair from the back of a dog! hee hee.
Should the goat be moulting at this time of year (Januray, middle of winter) or do they change their coat all the time?
Suspect its a new type of vampire magpie just after the blood ;->
Mmm! How about getting together and writing a paper on it? I'm sure the National Enquirer would publish it.
It is a great picture, come to think of it, it is quite common to see birds perched on top of sheep and cattle. The explanation of it looking for ticks as food is a good one.
Amazing picture! I see quite alot of birds perched on top of animals. I agree it's probably gathering fur for it's nest or feeding on ticks.
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