21 Jan 2017. #4. A conventicle of magpies


(Chinagraph, Aquarelle pastels)

About 30 magpies gathered in our back garden this morning. They were continually in motion, jockeying for position, very competitive and noisy. It sounds like a bunch of football rattles being spun.  Incidentally here are all the collective terms of magpies:

a conventicle
a gulp
a mischief
a tidings
a tittering  (not very descriptive of these bully boys)

I wondered if they were returning from abroad, but on googling, I find they don’t migrate. Magpies are sedentary birds and do not move far from where they hatch, but they form communal winter roosts, sometimes a few hundred individuals but more typically a few dozen birds. So it is likely we have a roost nearby and they are visiting our garden for food (I have some fatballs and seed out)  before dispersing each morning.



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