The thieving magpie, magpies are often referred to as "thieving magpies" due to their attraction to shiny objects, such as jewellery and shiny coins - They are also consider to be bad luck by some. In Scotland a single magpie near the window of a house is not just bad luck but the sign of impending death; the somewhat scary idea that they carry a drop of the devil's blood under their tongue adds to this tradition. When we lived in the Highlands of scotland we missed this striking bird, it is the one part of UK were you do not see them. Take a close look next time you see one, they are not just black and white you know. When seen close-up its black plumage takes on an altogether more colourful hue with a purplish-blue iridescent sheen to the wing feathers, and a green gloss to the tail. Remember to salute them too to ward off bad luck, better safe than sorry,
As I say moving to the Highlands from Cornwall meant we left the magpie behind. Living down on the costa blanca we had no sightings of them either so its been a real pleasure to make their acquaintance again. They are a noisy chattering species who will get up to all sorts, they are many things,scavengers, predators and pest-destroyers. To us they are a welcome, homely site and we rather prefer the view the chinese traditionally have of them, in China their name translates as the happiness bird.
Magpies usually mate for life so seeing one on its own is as sign of sorrow because it's lost it's mate, whereas if you see two it's is a sign of joy as it's with it's mate. This is why when you see a single magpie you ask after it's wife, thus suggesting it has a mate and is in fact happy - hence the rhyme one for sorrow , two for joy!
The magpie is consider by some to be the cleverest of animals, I suppose by stealing other birds eggs it is eating well and cutting down the competition. Personally I would not rate its intelligent by the fact that it can be taught to speak as parrots can, I am sure the clever ones stay well away from we humans.
if you have missed hearing the little rhyme about our feathered friend here it is:
One for sorrow,
Two for joy,
Three for a girl,
Four for a boy,
Five for silver,
Six for gold,
Seven for a secret never to be told.