Meet Magnus the magpie

Jennifer Tulip and magpie

If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter then you will have already been subjected to my inundation of Magnus the magpie-related posts.

Magnus was a helpless, boney chick with feather quills emerging from his pink skin when we took him in at about a week old. He was an eating and pooping machine living in a pretend nest made from the hood of Dave’s old hoodie inside a plant pot.

His feathers grew at an astonishing rate. I’ve raised many chicks over the years but each time I’m mesmerised by how fast they grow. The change, even between morning and evening was dramatic.

As a chick we fed him a varied picnic including boiled egg, ferret food, peas, mealworms, and earthworms. When he was in the nest his food was prepared into individual tupaweares lined up along the counter top next where his nest lived. Now he eats pretty much anything he can get his beak on.
tame magpie chick

After a couple of weeks Magnus left the nest and spent most of his time hopping around the front room or in a parrot cage where he slept. On a morning he would hop over the duvet, getting the hang of using his legs, as we sat drinking our cups of teas in bed. He had bursts of activity for about 10 minutes and then would settle down for a nap.

Once he could fly and land confidently, he moved into the large aviary measuring 8 x 6 meters which is filled with a few young trees, lots of branches for perches and natural ground flora. It gives him plenty of room to stretch his wings and explore. The aviary has a birdhouse attached to it so he has a warm and dry place to go if he chooses.

When we are outside he flies around free, but always under our watchful eyes. Farmers in the area catch and kill magpies so I’m extra carful he doesn’t wander too far. Boris, the rook I had a couple of years ago, suddenly disappeared one day. I like to think he met some other rooks and started a new life but it’s always in the back of my mind that he could have been shot. I try not to think about that possibility too much.

All members of the corvid family- magpies, jackdaws, jays, crows, rooks, ravens etc.- are highly intelligent. One study suggests they are more intelligent than the great Apes

The way Magnus explores and engages with everything shows how bright he is. He explores everything with his beak by carefully touching an object to test how it responds then starts pecking the object roughly to see what happens then. He can use his beak so delicately and accurately to open something up or move things around.

From a distance, the colours of the magpie can appear to be just back and white. Yet up close, the black feathers are iridescent, like oil floating on water. Just look at the beautiful colours of Magnus’ feathers in the photo below of him sunbathing. When birds sunbathe they go into a trance-like state. It’s rather hilarious.

Many people believe crows and their cousins are evil yet they get their bad name due to being inquisitive, clever and so deeply misunderstood. Old folk laws still live on, hundreds of years after the stories were first told. Some are true though- magpies do love shiny thing! All corvids do. We had a jackdaw that would collect shiny objects (and anything else he could get his beak on) and hide them in a bucket that was used as a shower in the caravan we lived in. Before each shower the bucket had to be emptied before it was filled with water. I’ve raised several corvids over the years, some of which you can read about in this post.

The name of this blog, The Thrifty Magpies Nest, was derived from my love for magpies and their reputation for collecting treasures, and now the blog has its very own mascot.

To conclude, I have written a little rhyme:

If you aren’t a fan of magpies,
then maybe I can convince you otherwise,
by showing you lots of photos,
and videos.
So follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram,
for lots of Magnus spam.

By Jenni Tulip

I'm a bright-haired, hill walking, magpie whispering, skull collecting, tree hugging, money saving, bird watching, happy campervanning, ferret fanatic, woodland dweller sharing my stories and passion for the outdoors to inspire you to immerse yourself in nature.

  • Oh he is beautiful – I had no idea magpies were so colourful (or could be so tame!). I think he likes human attention more than my bunny Chip!

  • The only time I have lived anywhere there were magpies was when I was a very little boy. We lived in California. There were lots of almond groves then (they are all under housing developments now) and the magpies lived in the almond trees. Haven't seen one for many years.

    I like your pictures. My daughter rescues foundling birds and animals. Even a horse. I think she is a bit older than you but you remind me of her in the way you like animals. That's how I got started with ferrets, she rescued two and needed a home for them. Now I could not live without my ferrets.

  • Very moved by this actually, a stunningly attractive bird.

  • Omg your the magpie mother =] he is adorable and you are one amazing woman for giving these birds new life =]

  • He is gorgeous! Have you read Corvus by Esther Woolfson, she raises birds including a very clever Magpie. I have a magpie family that visit my garden and frighten the hell out of my cat!

  • Thank you. I actually have the book, yes 🙂 Admittedly I haven't read the end though- I'm not much of a reader. I wasn't so keen on the fact she clipped her rook's wings. If I remember correctly, she wrote she did so because Chicken got spooked and flew into something. It happens when they are chicks but they soon learn to handle themselves. Rooks are acrobatic flyers. I had a rook called Boris and he was amazing to watch in flight. They genuinely play in the air for fun 🙂 Thanks for reading xx

  • Thank you 🙂 x

  • Thank you Simon!

  • Thank you Harry. You've said before I remind you of your daughter- she sounds awesome 😉

  • He loooves human attention! He will be even more colourful when he grows his adult feathers. They are starting to come through so he is looking a little messy again x

  • She is. She got her mom's genes.

  • This is amazing, I had no idea that magpies could become so tame! I knew other birds could, but magpies? No idea!
    He looks so gorgeous and I'm definitely interested in finding out more about magpies now – his colours are beautiful 🙂
    Sian xx Rebel Angel

  • Oh my… I've just found what I thought was a crow nestling in the road. It has fallen from a very high nest so no way of getting it back. Now I think it's a Magpie nestling. I'm feeding it, we'll see how it goes. It looks a bit older than the one in your first shot. I'm researching what to feed it. This page has been very helpful!

  • How is the baby bird you found?