British wildlife recordings
Pica pica : Magpie - Corvidae
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Pinbury Park, Gloucestershire: OS Grid Reference(395500,204500)
Williams, Aubrey John
Magpie, Pica pica
Call uttered by a magpie recorded on Pinbury Park, Gloucestershire. The magpie is an instantly recognisable bird and a regular sight in town and country. A member of the crow family, the magpie appears predominantly black and white with a long wedge-shaped iridescent tail. It has long been regarded as a bird of bad omen. Originally a bird of rural areas, the magpie has colonised towns and is even found close to city centres. It often perches on top of a bush or tree and on the ground walks or hops with a peculiar gait and its tail raised. The key to the magpie's success is its ability to eat anything from fruits and berries to carrion and beetles. The magpie will also raid other bird nests for chicks and kill small mammals. A magpie pair will start nest construction in mid-winter and build a domed structure, with a side entrance, out of twigs and mud high up in a tree. After fledging, the young will stay with their parents for at least six weeks. Magpies were heavily persecuted by gamekeepers, since they were wrongly assumed to be a pest and at the beginning of the 20th century the population was low. They have since recovered strongly and there are currently 650,000 pairs in Britain.