Bird of the month – June 2023

Have you seen the bird of the month?

For June, it is the: Magpie (Pica Pica)


Where can I find them?

They are very common and can be seen around most areas of the reserve, throughout the year. 

The best place to look and see them are along the Main Valley path.

About the species

The Magpie is easy to identify.  They are noisy and make a chattering call.  Their plumage is black and white, and they have a long tail.  When seen up close their plumage takes on a more colourful hue, with a purplish-blue iridescent sheen.

Magpies are known to be scavengers and predators.  When not nesting, it is possible to see groups of them together.  Non-breeding birds will gather together in flocks.

There is a nursery rhyme for the Magpie.  The earliest known version was recorded in 1780, but there are also several alternative versions.

The best-known version 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.

Another version was also written for the popular children’s TV programme Magpie, which ran from 1968 to 1980.

The species is on the UK green list, meaning its population is currently stable.

The Magpie weighs around 200-250g and have an average lifespan of 3 years.

What do they sound like?

A loud, harsh chattering “chak-chak-chak-chak…..”. They also give shorter “ch-tak” calls and higher-pitched squeaky phrases.

Where do they nest and what is the nest made from?

Nesting normally starts in April, with the nest being built by both the male and female.

It is normally constructed in the top of a bush, hedge or tree. It is a bulky structure made out of twigs with the inside lined with roots, mud, hair and plant fibres. A dome of twigs are placed over the nest with an opening to one side made for access.

Incubation normally lasts for around 20 days. Both the male and female will then continue to feed and look after their young.

Once the young fledge, they will normally stay fairly close to their parents for up to 2 months and will not leave the breeding territory until the onset of Autumn\Winter.