Magpies are the stars today at Light Future Art! How many of these feathery fun facts did you know already?
1. Magpies make their homes in forests, grasslands, and rural areas all across Europe, Asia, and Africa. They prefer to build their nests in trees but, where none are available, they will also build on the ground.
2. Contrary to popular belief, magpies do not actually have an affinity for shiny objects. If anything, they are wary. In recent experiments, magpies didn’t often approach shiny objects which were laid out for them and most of the time looked at them with suspicion. Farmers may be able to use this knowledge to dissuade magpies from eating their crops.
3. Magpies tend to stay with their siblings throughout their lives. They also form flocks of up to 100 individuals and rarely stray from one another. A group of magpies is called a parliament, a tribe, or a tiding. In winter, a tiding may be as large as 200 birds.
4. Magpies look much larger than they actually are. Their tails make up more than half the length of their bodies. The average magpie doesn’t weigh more than half a pound.
5. Magpies belong to the same family of birds as crows and ravens. They are among the most intelligent birds in the world. Magpies are able to recognize themselves in a mirror.
6. They can also count. In an 18th century experiment, five people hid behind a tree that was too close to the magpie’s nest for comfort. Then, four of the five people left the area. The magpie remained quiet and hidden until the fifth person left, and then immediately went about their day again.
7. A magpie’s diet depends on the season. In the winter, magpies usually eat plants, such as seeds, fruit, and crops. In the summer, they eat small bugs, like beetles. However, in the spring when they have chicks to feed, magpies become predators, preying on other birds and even small mammals.
8. Magpies do not migrate. They live in environments where food is available to them all year round. In fact, magpie populations have been flourishing rather than dwindling over the past few decades. Most magpies don’t travel more than a few miles away from the place where they hatched.
9. In the Middle Ages in Europe, magpies were seen as bad omens and perhaps even associated with witchcraft. However, the complete opposite was true in Asia, where magpies were viewed as bringing good luck to those who saw them.
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