Why do magpies like shiny things?

Hi Oscar:
That is a very good question! Lots of us like shiny things! It’s great to bring new stuff like a football or toy to school or show it to your friends. As we get older many of us like a shiny new mobile phone, car, or jewelry. When I was growing up in Australia, not much older than you, sometimes I got the chance to look inside magpie nests - they are quite large! Inside the nest there were all sorts of things, like twigs, paper, tin foil, bottle tops and even pieces of tin cans! Magpies are very clever birds and like to collect things. Some people think the male magpie collects shiny objects to attract a female magpie. I’d like to think that the female magpie collects shiny things too!

Magpies are not the only birds that collect things! For example, in Australia there is a ‘bowerbird’ - the male collects all sorts of things like feathers, shells, plastic, coins and even nails, and puts them in a beautiful nest-like home (a ‘bower’) to attract a female mate.

P.S. Mum & Dad, please keep encouraging Oscar to be curious about biology!

Last edited by Steve Lolait (25th Jun 2011 11:08:36)