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Magpies are many things, to many men they are scavengers, predators and pest-destroyers. They are a gardeners friend, taking caterpillars, yet they will also take young Bantam chicks if not protected by wire,(as  we found out  to our cost!), their more usual diet consists of Insects and worms, fruit, seeds, carrion, scraps, small vertebrates

When seen close-up its black plumage takes on an altogether more colourful hue with a sheen to the wing feathers, and a green gloss to the tail. They live in pairs, but Non-breeding birds will gather together in flocks in winter or a good food supply.

The Magpie builds a new nest each year, the nest is made from twigs and located in the centre of the crown of a deciduous tree, and looks like a huge dark ball. Magpies have a reputation for being thieves of glitter and Gold, but in reality there are not too many cases proven against them!


Quick Facts

Number of broods

26-31 days

20 days

Clutch Size
5-6 eggs

Egg Weight

Egg Size
34x29 mm

First Record
10th Century

Open woodland, scrub, towns and villages




Status in UK
Resident Breeder

Conservation Status UK

Number in Britain
1.2 million

First clutches laid
Mid to late April

Age at First Breeding
2 years

Typical lifespan
5 years

Maximum Recorded Age
21 years, 8 months

  • Magpies share winter roosts that can hold as many as 200 birds and they leave the roost before dawn.
  • Magpies are surrounded in superstition, one of them is a poem that starts
  • One for sorrow, two for joy
  • Three for a girl, four for a boy.......
  • An old rural superstition is to raise your hat or tug your forelock and say ‘ Good day Mr Magpie.’
  • In the last 35 years the population has quadrupled in Britain and Ireland.
  • The tail makes up half the birds length, making the bird look much bigger than it actually is.
  • Pairs have their own territories, individual birds roam further afield in small gangs.
  • They do not migrate and hardly ever fly more than 10km from where they  hatched.
  • Both parents feed the young after they have hatched.
  • During the breeding season the hen can often be identified by having bent or damaged tail feathers.
  • Both birds build the nest which can take several weeks to complete.

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