|Size||17 - 18 inch (44 - 46 cm); wingspan 20 - 24 inch (52 - 62 cm)|
|Speed||Up to 20 mph (32 km/h)|
|Weight||Up to 8 oz (230 g)|
|Lifespan||8 - 15 years|
|Predators||Foxes, cats, coyotes|
|Habitat||Europe, Africa, Asia|
|Scientific name||Pica pica|
|Characteristics||Black and white plumage, long tail feathers|
I Bring Good Luck! Oh, No, Bad Luck! No, Good Luck!
Every culture has its individual attitude towards the sociable little bird. In the Middle Ages, the magpie was associated with witches. For Germanic peoples the magpie was the bird of Hel, the goddess of the dead.
In Asia, the magpie comes off better and is considered to bring good luck. Native Americans also think highly of the magpie and believe it is a kind of spiritual being.
How it Glitters and Twinkles!
Magpies have a preference for anything glittering. They often carry away things such as coins or aluminum foil. Yet, they do not carry them to their nests as you might think, but hide them at a secret spot (of course, as nobody should be able to find them). This is why people sometimes describe the magpie as a thievish animal.
Not a Nice Way
The magpie loots the nests of other animals and eats their eggs or even their fledglings. Therefore, magpies are sometimes called bird killers.
The magpie is omnivorous, that means it is herbivore and carnviore at the same time. Their diet includes fruits, seeds and mushrooms, insects, larvae, worms, small vertebrates, and even carrion. It is also known to loot the nests of other birds and eats their eggs or even their fledglings. This is why people sometimes describe the magpie as a thievish animal.
If magpies do not hatch together (they would stay together for their entire lives then), they form little groups of up to 100 birds, which often stay in one place to take a nap.
This is Me There in the Mirror!
But how can scientists prove things like this? They marked a spot on the magpie’s plumage the bird normally cannot see. In the mirror, the magpie curiously looked at this spot and inspected it with its beak.
Magpies possess amazing complex thinking skills. A natural scientist figured this out in the 18th century already. For instance, if there are five humans hiding behind a tree near the nest the magpie keeps count of them.
If only four of the humans re-emerge, the magpie stays attentive, because it would never abandon its nest. The magpie knows: The fifth person is still hiding behind the tree.
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