Observing Magpies in Sweden

Crows and Magpies

A Seattle Memory – Crows

They go unnoticed overhead
Above the supermarket malls and cities
Suburban fields and meadows
Airborne gangs dressed in black feather jackets
Fearless wise guys with a raucous comment
For the goings on below.

I had a close relationship with crows when I was living in America, but I don’t see them much in Sweden. Seems they’ve been replaced by magpies, crows dressed in tuxedos.


They do not complain as much as crows. I never hear them but have read they talk in a variety of chirps, whistles, and warbles. They are more sophisticated than the crows I guess, perhaps a flocking bunch of introverts. Their acts are much the same as crows, they cruise the sky in gangs called murders. Magpies build huge nests near houses we live in and have a predilection for bright shiny objects they like to decorate them with.

They are extremely intelligent and can recognize themselves in mirrors. (My cat cannot. I’ve often wondered why that is.)  The magpie totem is a symbol of good luck and good fortune, but they are also seen as bad omens. Their reputation is not good as they are predators and bad news for songbirds. On the good side they like to pull ticks from the backsides of cattle.

Magpies live for up to thirty years. They are able to remember human faces and can become friendly with humans they trust. An Irish friend tells me one should say ‘good morning’ to the first magpie one sees each day. “Brings good luck,” he says. I hope to establish a closer relationship this summer and hope they remember all the bad pizzas I have served them this winter.

Do you have magpies where you live?

A well-dressed Magpie


  1. Hey Bruce,
    You did it! Well done!
    AND YES, I’ve not only got magpies in my neighborhood, I have them nesting very high up in the tall birch tree, 10 meters from my study window. I first noticed them there last summer. Now they’re back, renovating the next for this year’s brood. They can be caught raucous, especially if our cats are out back, even if they’re minding their own business.

  2. Yes, we have magpies in Amsterdam. And jays and parakeets! I see them less here in Nijmegen maybe because it’s a semi-rural area. I grew up with the nursery rhyme for numbers of magpies seen: 1 for sorrow, 2 for joy, 3 for a girl, 4 for a boy, 6 for silver, 7 for gold, 8 for a secret never to be told. There was even a children’s programme in the UK called Magpie with the rhyme as a theme tune. https://nostalgiacentral.com/television/tv-by-decade/tv-shows-1960s/magpie/

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