Friday, 13 June 2008

The Magpie

Pica pica belongs to the Crow family, Corvidae. These birds are found throughout the United Kingdom, except for the north of Scotland. They are characteristically black and white, but on closer inspection the dark feathers are iridescent dark blue, sometimes showing a green hue in certain light.
Magpies have a very noisy and raucous chatter. They move quickly with a fidgety motion, seldom staying in one place. As scavengers, they eat most things, but tend to prefer dead animal carcases, birds eggs and grubs, occasionally eating berries and bread when hungry enough. Most animals avoid magpies as they are the bullies of the bird world.

In a recent visit to Queens Park, Longton, we saw lots of grey squirrels, but at Hanley Park, Stoke-on-Trent, the magpies rule. There are dozens of them throughout the park.

The old adage of doffing your cap when you see a magpie and saying "good day my lord" for each one you see is seldom done now.

The old rhyme to predict the outcome of a pregnancy uses the count of magpies;

one for sorrow two for joy,
three for a girl and four for a boy,
five for silver, six for gold
and seven for a secret never to be told.
eights a wish and nines a kiss
and ten for disappointment.

There are far too many magpies in Hanley Park for this one to be of use. I am sure that there are many other versions of these old pastimes associated with the magpie, it would be interesting to compare notes!

No comments: