Things You Need to Know About Magpies!
This video covers everything you could ever want or need to know about Magpies. Including what magpies eat, where magpies live, how long magpies live and other magpie facts.
Here is the script from the video:
The Eurasian magpie is an unmistakable bird belonging to the crow family. From a distance they look to be white and black but on close inspection their darker feathers glimmer with iridescent blue and green. Magpies grow to weigh from 180 to 270 grams and have a wingspan of 52 to 62 centimeters. They also have a very long tail compared to their bodies that when spread is shaped like a diamond.
There are currently around 600,000 pairs of magpies in the UK and they have a large distribution across all of Europe, and are also found in Asia and in some northern parts of Africa.
Magpies are extremely intelligent, perhaps the most intelligent bird on the planet and use this superior knowledge to source a wide range of foods. They will eat everything from nuts, seeds and grains, to small birds, reptiles, insects, eggs, small mammals and various carrion. What they cannot eat straight away they sometimes cache away for eating later.
Magpies can start breeding at one year of age but they often wait until their second year and spend the first year roaming in small flocks of other young birds. When they do pair up, they will stay with the same mate for life and remain together throughout as a couple throughout the year. Nesting starts in April when the pair build a dome shaped nest high of the ground, often in the fork of a tree. This nest is made of twigs and cemented together with mud. Once the nest is completely built the female will lay between 3 and 6 green eggs speckled with brown. These eggs take around 21 days to hatch and then the chicks take a further 27 days to fledge. A lot of the chicks that hatch, do not survive to fledgling with roughly one out of every 3, dying from starvation. Once the chicks have fledges, they stay with their parents as a family group for several more weeks whilst they learn how to find their own food. A magpies survival rate through the first year can be as low as 22% but once a bird makes It through this first 12 months, it has an average life expectancy of around 3 and a half years. However, there has been a record of a wild magpie surviving to more than 21 years and this bird didn’t die of natural causes but was shot so could have lived for even longer.
As mentioned earlier, Magpies are extremely intelligent. They have been shown to use tools, to understand basic mathematics, and are the only bird to have shown to have self recognition. Some research suggests their intelligence may be on par with that of the great apes and some scientists believe they are capable of both grief and imagination!
One for sorrow, 2 for joy, 3 for a girl and four for a boy. Magpies are the subject of lots of superstitions but that short poem is the beginning of probably the most famous one. It is a long list of predictions that will happen if you see specific numbers of magpies. And despite it changing slightly throughout the centuries, seeing one magpie alone has always been a sign of bad luck. But don’t worry, if you see one magpie, there are several things you can try to combat the bad luck, including spitting over your shoulder three times, saying “good morning mister magpie. How is your lady wife today” and flapping your arms to imitate a second magpie. I haven’t tried any of these but if you do, let me know how it affects your luck.
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