What does it mean to see 20 magpies

Behavioral studies of magpies

You want to know how the magpie behaves in its habitat without ifs or buts. You are right here. Here you can participate in my observations with the magpies. In order to be able to judge magpies correctly, one has to observe them over a longer period of time. The results were amazing. The magpie is mostly judged by feeling. As a result, their reputation is worse than it really is. It depends on perception. I show you many pictures of the territorial behavior of the magpie, behavior of the magpie in the group, magpies solve problems together, magpies bathe together, magpies take sunbaths, magpies have storage for bad times, magpies go on mice and insect hunt, about the intelligence of the magpie and much more.

Image for behavioral studies of magpies in the garden - dispute

To report on the behavior of the magpies is not that easy, because the topic is so extensive that you don't know where to start. Watching magpies behave in nature and also getting photos is a challenge. I was lucky that on a few days up to eighteen magpies were with us in the garden at once. I built a playground for the magpies. First of all, a photo of what it looked like in one place in the garden. The branches moved when they landed on them. I had fastened them so that they couldn't fall off.

Behavioral biology: Pictures of magpies in youth clothing at the playground in the garden

With so many magpies it was difficult, where to look first. Some were bathing, others were examining a pit I had created and others were fighting.

Pictures of behavioral studies of magpies in the garden

I also did field experiments with the magpies in the garden. One attempt, for example, was the Elster mirror test, I wanted to know how you react to your reflection in the mirror. Now to the Elster mirror test. I put an old mirror in the garden and waited eagerly.

Picture of the behavior of the magpie at the mirror in the garden

I have known for a long time from my observations that birds are more intelligent than we think. Scientists have been doing experiments with magpie and crows in the laboratory for a long time to find out how intelligent corvids are. The difference in my attempts is that the birds don't get any additional reward if they are successful.
It's raining again. This is not an advantage for the experiment with the mirror image of the magpie. Magpies are also active when it rains. And lo and behold, the first magpie slowly moves towards the mirror. Will she look inside?

Will the magpie look in the mirror?

Magpies are inherently curious. Will the magpie recognize its reflection? The magpie did not hesitate long and looked in the mirror. And what did she see there? She couldn't believe it after her behavior. But see for yourself how it behaves. She also looked away and back very quickly. Then she even took a leaf in her beak to see if she really is. When the magpie realized that she was seeing her reflection in the mirror, she looked behind the mirror. Let someone say that birds are stupid and cannot think. They see through something faster than some other animals (e.g. monkeys). It took the magpie less than two minutes to realize that it was her reflection. But now take a look at the pictures.

Pictures of the behavioral biology of magpies - recognizing the mirror image

A moment later the magpie flew up onto the mirror and she looked at herself again. Did she want to see again whether it is really her reflection? I think so.

Image for the mirror test - Elster checks her reflection

Since the magpies need something to do, I have expanded the magpies' playground. I also put a few tree trunks in the garden to see how they deal with changes. As I found out, that's not a problem. Now you can take a look at some pictures of how a magpie defends the tree trunk, against conspecifics. There were always other magpies who wanted a place on the tree trunk. It is also kicked around.

Pictures of the behavior of magpies - establishing a hierarchy

After a while, there was some calm around the tree trunk. Newcomers kept trying to get a place on the tree trunk.

Picture of the behavior of magpies - establishing a hierarchy

Magpies are curious. In the following days I put several sticks, leaves and moss on the tree trunks and under the moss and leaves I hid cherries that they picked themselves in our garden. I wanted to see how the magpies behave. The first magpies to notice the changes immediately flew there and looked under the leaves and under the moss. The magpies took off again immediately when they first approached the mackerel, some of which fell down on landing. But that was the case with the next approaches.

Pictures of the behavioral biology of magpies in the garden

As you have seen in the pictures, the magpies are enthusiastic about their job to get the cherries. Now I stamped a round hole in the ground with a stake, about 10 cm in diameter and about 10 cm deep. I put food in it and covered it with sticks. I call the little pit a pitfall. A little further on I put bark and hid something edible underneath. First covered with moss and later with sticks. What the hiding places looked like, plus some pictures.

Pictures of behavioral studies of magpies in the garden

As you can see, the horse mackerel is immediately removed from the bark. When the first magpie discovered my pitfall, she was amazed. A moment later, other magpies were also admiring the hole in the ground. What are you going to do? The entrance to the bark was diligently uncovered and to my pitfall? Before I knew it, a magpie was stuck upside down in the hole.

Magpie is upside down in the pitfall
Pictures of behavioral studies of magpies in the garden

Since the magpies were in different places in the garden, I didn't notice how quickly they cleared the horse mackerel. Now I put horse mackerel on the pit again, this time the woods were longer and heavier. Because I wanted to see how they remove the horse mackerel. It was very interesting how some magpies removed the horse mackerel. The special thing was that long and heavy horse mackerel was removed in pairs.

Pictures of behavioral studies of magpies in the garden

I dug the pit a little deeper every day over the next few days to see how far you go upside down into the pit. Since the magpies are intelligent, they widened the pit every day and threw in grass and moss. Again I took the fallen earth out of the pit in the morning and covered the pit with sticks again. The magpies removed the horse mackerel again and enlarged the pit. Now see for yourself how far magpies venture into a small hole in the ground.
In the last picture it looks as if one magpie calls out: “Is something in it” and the other magpie calls out: “Shall I pull you out”.

Pictures of behavioral studies of magpies in the garden

If a group of magpies has formed, then there is a hierarchy among the magpies. Where all members have to stick to it. Be it eating, drinking, bathing or getting the best place on a hide. And woe to anyone who does not stick to it, then he will be put in his place. There is a fight. And it's not squeamish about it.
Here a little male has dared to bathe first in front of the female (boss of the group) and immediately he gets his punishment from the group. The only thing left for him to do is to escape from the bird bath, otherwise he could be pushed under the water by the others. Magpies are very brutal to each other when it comes to group ranking.

Pictures of the behavior of magpies - magpies while bathing and fighting

The little man doesn't get far. It is provided by the others. There is a fight, first as they say, man against man. Sometimes someone stays on the floor for a longer time.

Pictures of the behavior of magpies - magpies fighting

Now another magpie comes closer, does she want to help? No! She supports the attacker by standing on his tail feathers. This is to prevent the magpie lying on the ground from striking back. But the magpie on the ground managed to break free. Here, too, the images that match my observations.

Pictures of the behavior of magpies - magpies fighting

In the case of magpies, it also happens that the injuries are so great during confrontations that they cannot survive. In my observations, a young magpie did not survive the beating attack of its conspecifics.

Junge Magpie did not survive the beating
Behavior of magpies - magpies fight to the bitter end

When magpies find food in abundance, they hide it in what is known as a supply store. Almost all birds have storage for bad times. The magpies also hide a lot in the ground. The place in the ground is marked with leaves, sticks, grass or a piece of bark. I will now show you a store of magpies in the tree. The stores in the tree are often plundered by conspecifics and other bird species. Such as the great spotted woodpecker, the jay, titmouse and also the squirrel.

The magpie store is being plundered by titmice and the woodpecker

It is well known that magpies disturb other birds while they are eating. They pull e.g. buzzards, crows and also the white-tailed eagle on the black feathers to make them leave their prey so that they can benefit from it. Why do magpies attack a wood pigeon? Pigeons are among their food competitors. Magpies also eat like pigeons, for example.
And now look at the pictures of how the magpies inconspicuously circle a wood pigeon to attack at the right moment. They pretend they don't care about the wood pigeon.

Pictures of magpies attack wood pigeons

Magpies also have a regular daily routine. In the morning they came one by one and in the evening they all disappeared at once. Because magpies have a common sleeping place. Over a hundred magpies gather there. Once a day the group played get. They flew like crazy through the garden. One chased the other and in between there was always a break. Do the magpies keep fit enough to always be able to flee quickly in case of danger? I think so.

Image on the behavior of magpies - chases of magpies

Now to my observations on the thieving magpie. I wanted to know why everyone is talking about the thieving magpie. What's up? I attached glittering costume jewelry to several places in the garden, hoping that the magpies would take it away. What do you think?
I can only say that the jewelry is still there today. The magpies in my garden were not interested in the glittering jewelry. So much for the supposedly thieving magpie.

Costume jewelry for the supposedly thieving magpie

I have already reported several times about intelligent corvids that I have observed. Do corvids pass their knowledge on to other corvids? Take a close look at the pictures. In the first picture, a jay is talking to a magpie. About what? I do not know! In the second picture, the jay, the magpie, shows a grain of corn rising. Does he want to tell the magpie how good the corn kernels taste? In the third picture, taken a week later, a magpie and a jay are talking again. More information at:

Pictures of behavioral studies of magpies in the garden

The magpie not only talks to other corvids, but also to pigeons, as you can see in the next picture.

Bild zu Elster is talking to the wood pigeon

During my observations I often saw the magpie and the jay together, also at the bird baths.

Picture of jay and magpie at the bird bath

What does the magpie think? She wonders how I can get the tit dumpling. She looks up to see how the tit dumpling is attached. It flies up on the branch cutter I used as a holder. At first she tried to nibble the rope, but it didn't work. Then the magpie wanted to open the knot so that the dumpling would fall off. This shows that birds are able to recognize connections and act carefully.

Magpies can recognize and solve connections

More information about the Elster

Here you can find everything about magpies from a-z

I could tell a lot more about the Magpie, but the page is already long enough. Now a few more pictures, what you can expect on my other pages.

Pictures of my observations with the magpies

If you want to find out something about the knowledge of birds, visit my pages: What do birds and intelligent crows know. My page about behavioral studies of magpies is for projects in kindergarten, district school, high school, university and school for lectures and essays in biology, in zoology, in specialist classes, for worksheets, for species profiles and for presentations or for one Essay very popular in biology class. Here you will find everything for your profile template (elementary school, secondary school, high school) about birds.
There are extra bird pages for the children in preschool and for the children in primary school, e.g. with pictures of chicks or bird portraits. At the bottom of the page you will always find a list of other bird watching.

Observations, bird pictures and author: Gerhard Brodowski Hamburg

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