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magpie

magpie, common name for certain birds of the family Corvidae (crows and jays). The black-billed magpie, Pica pica, of W North America has iridescent black plumage, white wing patches and abdomen, and a long wedge-shaped tail. It is altogether about 20 in. (50 cm) long. Magpies build large, domed nests in trees. Nest-building is part of courtship. The female alone incubates the eggs. Magpies destroy other birds' eggs and young, and kill sickly, wounded, or newborn sheep and cows by pecking. They are scavengers, but they also eat harmful insects as well as fruits, berries, and leaves. Their reputation for collecting small, bright objects may be undeserved. Noisy, chattering birds, in captivity they can be taught to imitate some words. The yellow-billed magpie is found in the valleys of California. The European magpie is closely related to the American; other species are found in Asia and Africa. The magpie-lark belongs to a different family, Grallinidae. Magpies are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Passeriformes, family Corvidae.

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magpie

magpie the magpie is traditionally attracted by bright objects which it can steal. It is used in similes or comparisons to refer to a person who collects things, especially of little use or value, or a person who chatters idly. In traditional belief, it was also sometimes regarded as a bird of ill-omen, as in the saying one for sorrow.

The name is recorded from the late 16th century, and is probably a shortening of dialect maggot the pie, maggoty-pie, from Magot (Middle English pet form of the given name Marguerite) + pie (ultimately from Latin pica ‘magpie’).

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Magpie

Magpie

The chattering of a magpie was formerly considered a sure omen of evil. Another folk belief was that the croaking of a single magpie around a house signified that one of the inhabitants would soon die. In parts of Britain and Ireland it was believed that evil could be averted by being respectful to a magpie bowing or doffing one's hat. Irish folk would sometimes say "Good morning, your reverence" on seeing a magpie first thing in the morning. The magpie also figured in the folklore of the American Indians and was a clan animal among the Hopis.

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magpie

mag·pie / ˈmagˌpī/ • n. 1. a long-tailed crow with boldly marked plumage and a raucous voice. Five genera and several species include the black-and-white black-billed magpie (Pica pica) of Eurasia and North America. 2. used in similes or comparisons to refer to a person who collects things, esp. things of little value, or a person who chatters idly.

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magpie

magpie Bird of the crow family, closely related to the jay, found mostly in the Northern Hemisphere. The common magpie (Pica pica) has a chattering cry, a long greenish-black tail and short wings. It has a clearly defined white underside with black above. Length: 46cm (18in). Family Corvidae.

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magpie

magpie XVII. f. Mag, pet-form of Margaret + PIE1.

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magpie

magpie •magpie • Philippi • sweetie-pie •occupy

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