Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Day 39 - Magnificent Magpies

Hi all today's Day 39. and my family have been on holiday in London over the weekend and on the last day (Monday) we went to Kew Gardens. This had so much wildlife that I have probably over a months worth of posts. Anyway now for the main subject on magpies:

Do you salute when you see a magpie on its own or say 'good morning Mr Magpie? Or do you turn around three times and say hello Mr Magpie how are you today where's your wife, your child and your family (glad my mum doesn't do that one lol :-) If you do you're probably quite superstitious and believe in the following rhyme:
Magpie (Pica Pica)

One for sorrow,
Two for joy,
Three for a girl,
Four for a boy,
Five for silver,
Six for Gold,
Seven for a secret never to be told,
Eight for a wish,
Nine for a kiss,
Ten for a bird you must not miss.

According to the superstition the number of magpies you see at the same time determines what kind of luck you're going to get that day.

Here is an old version from around 1780:

One for sorrow,
Two for mirth,
Three for a wedding,
Four for death.

Must say that I prefer the more modern version.

No other bird causes as much superstitious belief than the magpie and was also believed to be associated with the devil.

Here are some facts about magpies:
  • They are a member of the Corvid family which is the same family as Crows and Rooks.
  • This family of birds is very intelligent and apparently a Magpie can recognise themselves in a mirror
  • They're not one of the most popular birds a) because they are associated with bad luck and bad omens and b) they are sometimes a scavenging (eat road kill) and predatory bird (will eat other birds and small mammals). 
  • Also they are thieves! They have been known to hop on to windowsills and take shiny objects from open windows. So don't leave your diamonds on your windowsill! Some research though now suggests they don't like, are perhaps afraid of shiny objects, so the superstition may not be right.
  • They are easily recognisable from their black and white plumage and long tail. But on closer inspection they have a purple-blue sheen to their dark feathers.
  • They're 600,000 breeding pairs in the UK meaning they are a green status and haven't had a decline.
  • They are birds that mate for life meaning once they have chosen a mate they will continue to breed with that mate until they die.
  • They are the national bird of Korea where it's seen as a bird of great fortune and provider of prosperity.
  • They have a  56cm wide, they are 45cm long and males are 240g whereas females are 200g.
  • Many don't last until the end of a year but the typical life span is 5 years.
  • The highest recorded age is 21 years 8 months 23 days. That's pretty old
  • Their nests often include a roof. Long eared owls sometimes adopt old Magpie nests
  • In the spring they sometimes group together in ‘magpie parliaments’ where unpaired birds look for mates.
Here are some links to some more information:

Hope you enjoyed,


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