One for sorrow, two for joy

Zsuzsanna Bird

Is it just me or, or are there a lot of magpies around at the moment? I have just been out on Brinscall Moor with the dog and seen a group of five and four or five individuals.

The problem is that when I see an individual magpie I have salute. My partner Julie told me that you have salute a magpie or it is bad luck, as in “one for sorrow.”

I am not superstitious but I have saluted them ever since. In fact if I don’t salute them when I see them on a Saturday morning then I fear Wigan Athletic will lose that afternoon – so I am averting a crisis.

But this is June and the football season is a distant memory so why do I continue to salute? There will be plenty of single magpies around when England start playing in the World Cup.

Magpies have a bad reputation because they take chicks from nests and seem just too big for your bird table when they fly into your garden.
But they are a beautiful bird, black with a white belly and patches on the shoulders and wing.

Related to crows, they are intelligent birds and spend a lot of chattering together in groups, pretty much everywhere you can imagine. You will see them in gardens, parks, woodland and fields. They have managed to adapt alongside man and, perhaps, that is why we are so uneasy about them.