Here in Ireland magpies, an invasive species from east asia, are multiplying at a frightening rate. They will kill young songbirds and steal their eggs. Songbirds are in decline because of magpies, while magpies increase. There is a poem:
One for sorrow, two for joy, Three for a girl and four for a boy. Five for silver, six for gold, Seven for a secret never told.
Today, one or two magpies are rarely seen. Recently, I counted thirty two magpies in the local park field. That poem could be stretched a bit today. Because of the damage they do to songbirds they now have cages in which they trap magpies. to attract them to the cages they use a magpie from another area. They know the difference and are caught attempting to attack these outsiders.
My best magpie story is the time I was on a holiday to Lisbon in Portugal. One of our trips was to Fatima, very interesting, but the other to an old hunting castle used by the kings and princes of old. One large room had 27 magpies beautifully painted on the roof. The guide explained that this particular hunt was attended by 27 guests who were accommodated in the castle. One morning a beautiful girl was see leaving the Prince's bedroom and the gossip started and spread like wildfire. As it happened the girl was a servant and had just delivered breakfast to the Prince. When the prince heard what the gossip was all about he cleared them all out of his castle. He then hired a painter to draw 27 chattering magpies on the roof of the dining hall and placed all their names along the wall.