One for sorrow, two for joy...
Nineteen for ???
We were just enjoying a cup of coffee when we realized that there was a racket going on around us. It was a tiding, a gulp, a charm or perhaps a murder of magpies - depending, of course, on your point of view. Collective nouns can be such fun!
We often see magpies around our area; and although they make enough noise for ten, there are usually only three or four to be seen. Why, I wonder, were we suddenly surrounded by so many? Was it just one of those things - or can we blame the weather?
I began to wonder about the origin of the word, 'magpie', and whether the 'pie' bit was related to the word 'pied' (see also: piebald).
'Pied Beauty' by Gerard Manley Hopkins has long been a favourite poem of mine... not forgetting, of course, 'The Pied Piper'.
It seems, however, that the 'pie' bit actually comes from the Latin name, pica pica, which means 'a craving for something not normally regarded as of nutritional value', or in the specific case of the magpie, a bird who gleans all sorts of odd bits and pieces for its nest.
Has anyone else experienced a murder of magpies this evening? Do let me know.
- The Thieving Magpie by Stella Turk MBE