Magpie Superstitions

No bird has quite aroused so much suspicion than the humble Magpie. Have you ever wondered why do you tip your hat to a Magpie? Or why is it bad luck to see a Magpie alone? Magpies have long been linked to superstitions with many tales of how and why they all began.

Why are we superstitious of Magpies?

Magpie superstition can be traced back to Christianity. The church has long been wary of Magpies as it’s said it was the only bird not to comfort Jesus on the cross. The bird also never entered proper mourning due to their pied plumage. Early Christians believed that the Magpie carried a drop of the Devil’s blood making them a vessel of evil spirits. Another tale from Christianity states that the Magpie was the only bird refused entry onto Noah’s Ark.

Magpies soon grew into symbols of superstition and evil across many cultures. Without proper understanding of the world around, they were long blamed for unpredicted weather changes, disease, and death. They were also seen as the symbol of witchcraft.

So how did this lead to today?

Modern day Magpie Superstitions

Photo by David Iannace on Unsplash

From evil pasts to suspicious futures, the Magpie remains a highly skepticised bird.

The most common Magpie superstition is the bad luck of seeing a Magpie alone.

Magpie rhyme:

‘One for sorrow, Two for joy, Three for a girl, Four for a boy, Five for silver, Six for gold, Seven for secrets to never be told.’

Whilst no one is sure why a lonely magpie is a symbol of bad luck, it is thought this is because Magpies are known to mate for life.

To counter any bad luck this may bring a number of sayings can be used:

  • ‘Good Morning Mr Magpie, how is your lady wife today?’
  • ‘Good Morning Captain’

You could also simply tip your hat or salute the Magpie to show respect.

Are Magpie’s Thieves?

Another common suspicion is that Magpies are attracted to shiny things an often steal them. Once again rooted in the mistrust for the bird, past tales of stolen jewelry and has led to the Magpie getting the reputation of a thief. Despite this research has shown that magpies aren’t attracted to shiny things, in fact they’re scared of them! This is because they’re novel to the bird, so they approach with caution.

So there’s no need to fear leaving keys or screws out in the garden, but maybe just maybe a Magpie might take a fancy to them!

Despite the tales and skepticism surrounding them, Magpies are beautiful birds to invite into your garden.

Photo by David Iannace on Unsplash

What do Magpies eat?

In summer Magpies enjoy a diet of insects, including beetles, worms and caterpillars. As winter draws in Magpies will forage for berries and grains. Magpie’s love a wild garden, to find out how you can rewild your garden click here. To attract Magpies to your garden make sure to choose insect or berry based feeds. Ensure food is available all year round so you feathered friends never go hungry!

One thought on “Magpie Superstitions

  1. I have a pair of magpies that appear to have made a home in the tree in my garden.
    I think they are beautiful birds and wondered about the myths surrounding them.
    Still go into my “good morning mr magpie “ when I first see them in the morning
    John, Crewe, Cheshire

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