A pleasure we allow ourselves is to feed the wild birds that come to our garden and we have quite a variety of them.

Most become accepting of us over time and have no fear when we move about when they are there but we are curious about a family of magpies that visit regularly. Magpies are usually friendly and easily tamed, becoming more like family pets. They will take food out of your hand and even fly on to the table if you happen to be eating outdoors. Indeed, they are not too proud to snatch food from your plate if the chance arises.

This year, we welcomed a family of magpies to our garden but this family is different. We put food out near the veranda for them and make sure there is clean drinking water nearby, always moving gently and quietly. Yet still, as a family of four, they have remained strangers, the parent birds being especially wary and the two young ones fearful and suspicious of us.

We had not seen them for several days but one day the youngest one was waiting near the door for us. She wanted food and we could not mistake her need. We threw her some broken up bread soaked in a little oil and noticed she had trouble picking up the pieces. She put her head on one side and sort of scooped up the pieces and then we realised that half of the top part of her beak was missing.

Since then, she has become almost friendly, visiting by herself, and when we are indoors, she looks in through the door to find us and let us know she needs food. If we do not notice her, she will sing to alert us and so her trust is slowly building.

We cannot cure her beak, we can only make her life a little easier but if she has learned to become more hopeful and loving, we too have learned something valuable.

We have learned that 'suffering is a source of endurance, endurance of approval, and approval of hope. Such hope is no fantasy, through the Holy Spirit he has given us, God's love has flooded our hearts..." as Paul said in Romans 5:3-5.

Thank you, little broken beak magpie for opening our hearts to the flooding of love

Elizabeth Price