Magpie - Pica Pica......
The Eurasian magpie or common magpie (Pica pica) is a resident breeding bird throughout northern part of Eurasian continent. It is one of several birds in the crow family designated magpies, and belongs to the Holarctic radiation of "monochrome" magpies. In Europe, "magpie" is used by English speakers as a synonym for the European magpie: the only other magpie in Europe is the Iberian magpie (Cyanopica cooki), which is limited to the Iberian Peninsula.
The Eurasian magpie is one of the most intelligent birds, and it is believed to be one of the most intelligent of all non-human animals. The expansion of its nidopallium is approximately the same in its relative size as the brain of chimpanzees, orangutans and humans.
Magpies were originally known as simply "pies". This comes from a proto-Indoeuropean root meaning "pointed", in reference to either the beak or the tail. The prefix "mag" dates from the 16th century and comes from the short form of the given name Margaret, which was once used to mean women in general (as Joe or Jack is used for men today); the pie's call was considered to sound like the idle chattering of a woman, and so it came to be called the "Mag pie". "Pie" as a term for the bird dates to the 13th century, and the word "pied", first recorded in 1552, became applied to other birds that resembled the magpie in having black-and-white plumage.
The range of the magpie extends across temperate Eurasia from Spain and Ireland in the west to the Kamchatka Peninsula. The species has been introduced in Japan on the island of Kyushu.
The preferred habit is open countryside with scattered trees and magpies are normally absent from treeless areas and dense forests. They sometimes breed at high densities in suburban settings such as parks and gardens. They can often be found close to the centre of cities.
Magpies are normally sedentary and spend winters close to their nesting territories but birds living near the northern limit of their range in Sweden, Finland and Russia can move south in harsh weather.
A study conducted near Sheffield in Britain, using birds with coloured rings on their legs, found that only 22% of fledglings survived their first year. For subsequent years, the survival rate for the adult birds was 69%, implying that for those birds that survive the first year, the average total lifespan was 3.7 years. The maximum age recorded for a magpie is 21 years and 8 months for a bird from near Coventry in England that was ringed in 1925 and shot in 1947.
The Eurasian magpie is believed not only to be among the most intelligent of birds but among the most intelligent of all animals. Along with the jackdaw, the Eurasian magpie's nidopallium is approximately the same relative size as those in chimpanzees and humans, significantly larger than the gibbon's. Like other corvids, such as ravens and crows, their total brain-to-body mass ratio is equal to most great apes and cetaceans. A 2004 review suggests that the intelligence of the corvid family to which the Eurasian magpie belongs is equivalent to that of great apes (chimpanzees, orangutans, and gorillas) in terms of social cognition, causal reasoning, flexibility, imagination and prospection.
Magpies have been observed engaging in elaborate social rituals, possibly including the expression of grief. Mirror self-recognition has been demonstrated in European magpies, making them one of only a few species to possess this capability.The cognitive abilities of the Eurasian magpie are regarded as evidence that intelligence evolved independently in both corvids and primates. This is indicated by tool use, an ability to hide and store food across seasons, episodic memory, using their own experience to predict the behavior of conspecifics. Another behaviour exhibiting intelligence is cutting their food in correctly sized proportions for the size of their young. In captivity, magpies have been observed counting up to get food, imitating human voices, and regularly using tools to clean their own cages. In the wild, they organise themselves into gangs and use complex strategies hunting other birds and when confronted by predators.
In Europe, magpies have been historically demonized by humans, mainly as a result of superstition and myth. The bird has found itself in this situation mainly by association, says Steve Roud: Large blackbirds, like crows and ravens, are viewed as evil in British folklore and white birds are viewed as good". In European folklore, the magpie is associated with a number of superstitions surrounding its reputation as an omen of ill fortune. In the 19th century book, A Guide to the Scientific Knowledge of Things Familiar, a proverb concerning magpies is recited: A single magpie in spring, foul weather will bring The book further explains that this superstition arises from the habits of pairs of magpies to forage together only when the weather is fine. In Scotland, a magpie near the window of the house is said to foretell death. An English tradition holds that a single magpie be greeted with a salutation in order to ward off the bad luck it may bring. A greeting might take the form of saying the words ‘Good morning, Mr Magpie, how are Mrs Magpie and all the other little magpies?’