21 Facts about Magpies

Hi there

Some facts about Magpies

Source: http://www.jacobijayne.co.uk/21-facts/

1. Magpie numbers in Britain and Ireland have quadrupled in the last 35 years.

2. The increase has been particularly noticeable in suburban areas.

3. During the winter the magpie’s diet is largely vegetarian, and in the summer predominately ground invertebrates. Only during the spring, when feeding its young, does it become a major predator, raiding the nests of songbirds for eggs and young.

4. Opinions differ widely on the impact of magpies on nesting birds. Most studies suggest that their impact is minimal, but where magpies have been removed, breeding success of songbirds has improved.

5. One of the explanations for the magpie’s booming population is thought to be the amount of carrion from road kills available today, providing a year-round food source.

6. Magpies can be caught legally in Larsen traps, a live-capture trap that uses a decoy bird to lure others into the trap. Many thousands are caught and killed in this way every year.

7. A male magpie, attracted to a female decoy, will attempt to court and mate with her unless his mate accompanies him, in which case their joint response is aggressive.

8. Magpies have always been surrounded by superstition, and there are many versions of the poem that begins:

 

             One for sorrow, two for joy…

 
9. There was an old rural tradition of raising one’s hat to a magpie; now few people wear hats, the tradition has largely died out.

10. A magpie looks much bigger than it is: the tail makes up half the bird’s length. Its average weight is only about half that of a wood pigeon’s.

11. They can be found throughout almost all of mainland Europe, from southern Spain and Greece north to Lapland, but are absent from many offshore islands, including Sardinia, Corsica, the Balearics and Iceland.

12. Pairs usually remain within their territories, but non-breeding birds wander more widely in small gangs or bands.

13. They are non-migratory, and it’s rare for one to ever travel more than 10km from where it was hatched.

14. Though most nests are built in trees, where there are no suitable trees they will build on the ground.

15. A typical nest incorporates a roof, and may have two entrances, but some populations build open nests.

16. Long-eared owls often adopt old magpie nests.

17. The date of the first egg being laid is largely the same throughout Europe, with the peak period mid to late April.

18. In southern Spain great spotted cuckoos often lay their eggs in magpie nests.

19. In Britain magpies have relatively few enemies apart from man, but in some parts of Europe they are the favourite prey of goshawks.

20. Communal winter roosts may hold as many as 200 birds.

21. The roosting birds have usually departed before sunrise.

Regards

Kathy and Dave

  • Nice Magpie info, thanks for sharing! :-)

    Millie & Fly the Border Collies

  • Thanks Blackbird. We have many magpies in my neck of the woods. Such beautiful birds, as long as they stay clear of any nests in my garden!!

    Cheers, Linda.

    See my photos on Flickr

  • In reply to Sparrow:

    Hardly get any magpies around here :-(   I've never seen one where I live at all, not even heard one around here!  I don't know why either!  I get excited when I see/hear them when I'm out on walks now lol

    Millie & Fly the Border Collies

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous

    In reply to KatTai:

    Hi Kat

    That is disappointing for you Kat .. depending on the area you stay

    We get loads in Bedford and hear the squawks everywhere.

    There was some issues in Scotland with their decline at one stage especially at East Lothian.

    Unmistakeable bird, and I have counted 4 in our garden at the present moment.

    Regards

    Kathy and Dave

    KatTai said:

    Hardly get any magpies around here :-(   I've never seen one where I live at all, not even heard one around here!  I don't know why either!  I get excited when I see/hear them when I'm out on walks now lol

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    A couple more magpie things...

    In the 70's, ITV had a version of Blue Peter called Magpie. The theme tune was a rock version of the poem mentioned above. It was sung by the band Murgatroyd.

    Folklore has it that magpies like stealing shiny things like jewellery from peoples homes. In Brighton there is a long standing re-cycling group called Magpie.

     

    An egret changed my life!

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous

    In reply to Billy Wix:

    Hi Billy

    We must be similar ages.  I remember the programmes that you are discussing at the moment

    The link to the Magpie programme:

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    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mWqXZEngVc8

    Magpie .....

    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

    Magpie .....

    True with the Folklore with the thieving of gleaming items - they are attracted by shiney articles

    Regards

    Kathy and Dave

    Billy Wix said:

    A couple more magpie things...

    In the 70's, ITV had a version of Blue Peter called Magpie. The theme tune was a rock version of the poem mentioned above. It was sung by the band Murgatroyd.

    Folklore has it that magpies like stealing shiny things like jewellery from peoples homes. In Brighton there is a long standing re-cycling group called Magpie.

  • In reply to Billy Wix:

    Billy Wix said:

    A couple more magpie things...

    In the 70's, ITV had a version of Blue Peter called Magpie. The theme tune was a rock version of the poem mentioned above. It was sung by the band Murgatroyd.

    Folklore has it that magpies like stealing shiny things like jewellery from peoples homes. In Brighton there is a long standing re-cycling group called Magpie.

     

     

     

    I remember that TV progarm, showing our age :-)

    Magpies have such lovely colours in they feathers

    I always remember my mother telling me to chase off magpies.

    she told me that a friend of her was in her garden watching her cat with her kittens when a coulpe of magpie flew down and took a kitten, they ripped it apart  before flying off to eat it. she hates them, but wouldn't hurt them.

     

    Hey farmer, farmer, put away the D.D.T now. Give me spots on my apples, but leave me the birds and the bees, please!

  • In reply to Janet:

    Hi Kathy.

    Another great list of facts.  Thanks for posting them.

    Regards Buzzard

    Nature Is Amazing - Let Us Keep It That Way

  • Hi can anyone help me please. A couple of weeks ago I saw an injured magpie in my mum's garden and two other Maggies were pecking at it. I chased them off and the injured one ran under the caravan and wouldn't let me catch it. I went home and my mum had to chase this pair off all night until dark when they went to bed. I called at mums in the morning and these two maggies were pecking and pulling this poor bird around again, this time I managed to catch it.
    I put it in a pet carrier and my mum phoned our local wildlife rescue, explained how busy they were and they will come out when possible or I could care for it myself until it's well and I could go to my vets with it. All vets near me wont treat birds or they want payment for wildlife . I'm currently on sick so don't have the money for vets for something that isnt mine so I decided to take it home and treat it's two wounds that looked like they were caused by the maggies. I put the pet carrier in my dogs cage and cleaned the wounds. They looked sore and swollen but not life threatening . That was two weeks ago. The magpie is strong but still has lump on its foot but I've noticed where the wing was injured still has a lump but no swelling now but it's wing actually has too much movement in the joint.
    I was hoping to release it this week where I picked it up but now I don't think it's ready but I also think it had a mate and don't want it to move on but at the same time if the bird won't be able to be released what will happen with its partner. Any help or ideas would be fab. Please dont reply with any nasty messages as I am only trying to help a living creature.
  • I think you have done very well Karen to look after the Magpie for two weeks, I wish I could advise you on the next step but I don't have the expertise. I wonder if the wing needs strapping to the body just to allow it to strengthen, maybe you could phone the wildlife centre again and when they know you have been trying for two weeks they might advise you on if not taking it there, at least give you an idea as to who could help you. Don't worry about getting nasty messages on this site, people will try to help as we all enjoy wildlife.

    Lot to learn