magpie - rspbI often see magpies in my garden, they strut purposefully around as if they own it! They are striking birds, and from a distance look rather like black and white, long-tailed crows. However, the black plumage is actually a dark and glossy iridescent blue-green. Magpies have an age-old reputation for liking bright shiny objects, leading to the commonly held perception that they are ‘thieving magpies’, but recent research suggests that this is probably not true.

I quite often see a couple of magpies in my garden. Occasionally I see as many as four, but last week there were six magpies strutting around, investigating the bird bath! After a bit of research, I discovered that this sometimes happens in spring, when magpies gather in ‘parliaments’ to resolve social and territorial conflicts.

Seeing six magpies in my garden reminded me of an old traditional rhyme, which was used as the title song for a children’s TV program when I was young – unsurprisingly the program was called Magpie!

One for sorrow, two for joy.
Three for a girl and 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 best not miss!

Six for gold? That sounds quite nice; but I haven’t seen any sign of it yet!


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