Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Magpie With No Tail

The Magpie
(Pica pica)
We have quite a few of these around our area, I was asked yesterday if they were friendly. To answer that I would have to say the are more scared of humans that many other birds... they try to keep their distance, I'm sure this is in bred in them as the are very often shot or trapped.I Magpies earned a poor reputation from game keepers due to their taste for eggs and young of nest birds, yet they benefit farmers and gardeners by eating mice, rats, voles, snails and slugs.

The large nest is made of thorny sticks, mingled with roots and turf, and lined with clay and mud. Normally built high in a tall tree but I have known them to have built and reader chicks in a nest that was only about 6-7 foot up a tree. Both the male and female are black and white in colour at a glance. male tend to be a wee bit larger than the female.

They are opportunistic scavengers and will eat anything once they have discovered it is edible. They do raid the nests of other birds for the eggs and will eat their fledglings. I have seen them do this often, it is not a nice sight to see at all.... the parent birds and the fledgling scream but to no avail.. it is a noisy, brutal thing to witness and is another reason Magpies are not liked in town and gardens.

In the spring, large numbers of Magpies often gather to resolve territorial conflicts and social standing. These gatherings, called parliaments, probably gave rise to the many nursery rhymes and poems about Magpies, yet many other crows do the same.... and around here it can be a mix of Magpies and Jackdaws. It is a very strange thing to see when birds come flying from all directions to one tree.... the noise is loud with much chattering and squawking. It can go on for quite awhile with birds coming and going.... some birds will be chased off by both Jackdaws and Magpies as if they are working together.

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 that's best to miss.

The hen lays and incubates eggs that are smooth, glossy and pale blue with olive-brown or grey spots. The eggs are about 35 mm by 24 mm. During the breeding season, the hen can often be identified by having bent or damaged tail feathers, on none at all like this girl who calls daily to see hat food I've put out for her. Both parents will feed the young after they have hatched.


imac said...

Nice magpie Tom.

On your header, just when did you pose for this my
Love it.

This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

Tom: Neat to see the Magpie, I finally saw one on the Europe trip.
Cute header but you forgot the car. LOL

Becca's Dirt said...

Interesting little critters. I wouldn't want one in my yard messing with my baby birds.

Cute header.

Martha said...

Cute little mascot for the header and love this beautiful bird in the entry! He's just gorgeous!!

Arija said...

Tom, an absolutely lovely magpie post! Just great the way you have caught all possible views of the birds, especially the blue flash on the back. i know how hard it is to get the eyes to show on a black and whit bird.