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  • Writer's pictureWildlife Friendly Otley


To me it seems a shame that we anthropomorphize these birds and regard them as villains or bullies. Yes, they do eat the eggs and young of smaller birds, but so do other birds (owls, woodpeckers), and this is just part of the natural balance. Cats kill a lot of birds too (one recent survey suggests a million a week in the UK), but the RSPB believe that neither have a significant effect on bird populations. Most young birds die naturally before adulthood – that’s why they have large broods. The idea that Magpies steal shiny objects is not backed by scientific evidence either – in fact, like many creatures, they are probably unsettled by unusual objects. “Black and white” doesn’t do justice to the Magpie’s plumage – there’s a blue/purple/green iridescent sheen to some of their feathers. As with the other Corvids, they are very intelligent birds, especially when motivated by food. They are one of the few non-mammal species to recognise themselves in a mirror test.


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