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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

18 December, 2010

Magpie (Pica pica)

Magpie (Pica pica)
Originally uploaded by Peter Orchard
This is they bird people love to hate! If you listen to many people you would soon believe that the poor Magpie is the sole reason for the decline in numbers of garden birds.

This is, of course, absolute rubbish. These prejudices against the Magpie have no basis in science at all.

The fact is, as any reasonable person will know already, that garden birds populations reflect total populations. If a bird has decreased in numbers across the country in all habitats it will, obviously, be seen less often in gardens! The decline in many bird species populations are usually complex and revolve around loss of suitable breeding territory and problems with food supply.

The Magpie is NOT increasing in numbers and not, therefore, decimating our garden birds. The Magpie eats more carrion than live prey and benefits from road casualties in Pheasants, Hedgehogs, etc. The Magpie is responsible for less losses amongst baby birds than domestic cats and Grey Squirrels.

These facts are based on scientific research done by Sheffield University and supported by RSPB findings.

Although it looks black and white in colour the Magpie in bright sunshine if seen close up is a wonderful mixture of iridescent blues and green - a bit like a Mallard's head only generally darker!

The Magpie is, however, number 12 in the chart of the most common bird in gardens but that is because they feed on scraps, not other birds.

Justice for the Magpie!