Magpie: The Intelligent Bird With Bold Personality

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Magpie is one of the bold birds that are very intelligent with a twist of mischievous personality. As a member of the crow family, it is not uncommon for this medium-sized bird to have frequent conflicts with humans. Australian magpies are very famous for swooping cyclists that result in bicycle accidents and injuries. There is more to know about these birds than just them being bullies who attack humans and other animals. You will find some of the common and useful information about magpie below. Let’s take a look and see which part do you think is the most fascinating about them.

1Appearance

The upper parts of a magpie’s body and wings are black-colored with iridescent green, purple, and blue sheen. As for the belly flanks, ramp, and some parts of the wings, they are covered with white plumage. The white feathers on their wings make these birds stand out when taking flight with just a splash which is stunning. Their beautiful feathers also play a part in helping the males getting attention from the female during mating season. Another beautiful thing about them is their tiny dark eyes that are always searching the environment. The combination of their eyes and amazing complex thinking skills makes them extremely observant especially when guarding their nests.

Similar to a crow, a magpie has a long pointed beak along with round wings and a long wedge-shaped tail. A magpie’s tail is so long it is often roughly the same length as its entire body. The tail helps it to easily maneuver through the air with rapid direction change of flight when needed. As for the feet, they are also dark in colors with 3 thin toes pointing forward and one pointing backward. When magpies move, they take long but slow steps which appear as if they are strutting instead of walking. This is another distinctive characteristic that earns them a reputation for being aggressive birds.

2Behavior

Magpies are very intelligent birds, and they are one of the rare animals that recognize their own image in the mirror. This ability is very rare, but these birds are more famous for their mischievous behaviors instead. Because magpies are bold, they are not afraid to spend time around humans and residential neighborhoods at all. Magpies are known to be the jack of all trades, predators, and scavengers with very noisy chatting. A group of magpies is called “a parliament”, and they often caw and look stately at each other in spring. People also call a flock of magpies a mischief or a tribe, depending on where they are from. At the same time, they are vocal so magpies communicate with each other by loud rattling calls.

These birds are monogamous, and they mate for life. The female incubates the eggs while the male provides food for her during the incubation period. When the eggs hatch, both parents take care of the chicks until they learn to fend for themselves. Magpies become a major predator only during spring when feeding their young as they raid songbirds’ nests for food. One of the popular myths says that magpies like to collect and store shiny objects like jewelry in their nests. In fact, magpies are actually scared of shiny items so they often avoid those flashy things. So if you want to deter them from wrecking your plants, placing shiny objects in the fields may help.

3Feeding & Habitat

Magpies are omnivores, and their menu changes in different seasons. They eat insects in summer, chicks, eggs, and rodents in spring, and berries, fruits, grains, and nuts in winter. Magpies are also useful because they feed on ticks on deer, elk, and other large mammals. At the same time, magpies have also adapted to suburban living so they also eat leftover food scraps as well. From chicken runs to household scraps, these birds will eat them all. With the ability to hunt, magpies also prey on smaller birds and mammals like young rabbits. Sometimes they also feed on carrion from roadkills which they also hoard for eating later when food is abundant.

Another interesting thing about them is that they are sedentary birds. This means magpies spend most of their lives in a radius of 6 miles around their birthplace. Magpies are social animals. they live in flocks during the summer and in large groups of around 200 birds in winter. They nest in the trees, but they will also nest on the ground if trees are not available. There are at least 15 species of magpies, and you can find them in Africa, Asia, Australia, and Europe. Magpie inhabits farmlands, grasslands, hedgerows, and open woodlands, but they are also seen in gardens and parks as well.

4Predators & Threats

image: pixabay

Their natural enemies are cats, coyotes, dogs, foxes, and other birds of prey such as goshawks. Cats and dogs would attack magpies when they try to eat from bird feeders or steal food from trash cans. Magpies are not safe both on the ground and in their air because their enemies are quite the dangerous kinds. To protect themselves from predators like hawks and owls, magpies often live in flocks. This is why it is common to see a flock of magpies working together to chase a predator away from a nesting area.
Despite having a huge population, the number of magpies has been decreasing lately.

Different magpie species have different statuses because some of them are abundant while others are endangered, The most common factors that limit their populations are the high mortality of young birds and lack of nesting territories. Another threat to their number is being killed by farmers because they steal grain and seed from around the barnyards. This is why some farmers may put out poison to kill the ones that invade their property. In Southeast Asia, people trap them to sell as pets which also harms their population over there.

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