Read about the magpie and its nest.
This bird lives in many countries; but not in those that are very cold or very warm. It is about eighteen inches long. Its head, neck and breast are black, but the under parts are snow-white. Its bill is strong; its tail is very long. It is a beautiful bird. The magpie feeds on small animals, insects, worms and vegetables. It makes its nest in trees. It builds its nest with great art.
The magpie covers all the upper part of its nest with branches and leaves a hole in the side to go in. The nest is the magpie’s castle, which protects it from the attacks of other birds. The bagpie lines its nest with straw, wool and other soft things. The nest is very cosy. The mother bird lays seven or eight grey eggs there.
The magpie is bold and cunning. Sometimes people tame the magpie and teach it to talk. It can pronounce words and even short sentences.
Answer the questions
- Where do magpies live?
- What does a magpie look like?
- Is it a beautiful bird?
- What does it eat?
- Where does it make its nest?
- How does it build the nest?
- How many eggs does it lay?
- Do people tame magpies?
The Magpie’s Class
Read the story and you will know why none of the birds learned to build pretty, cosy nests.
A long, long time ago, there lived a bird which always build pretty, cosy nests. This bird was the magpie. All the other birds wanted to know how to build good nests too. At last the magpie said: “Well, I shall teach you. At the next sunrise meet me under the old oak-tree.” Just as the sun showed his bright face, all the birds gathered under the oak-tree. The magpie was already there.
The magpie told them to stand in a circle and watch carefully all she did. Then she took some mud and made it into a round cake.
“That is easy!” said the thrush. “I am sure I can build a nest.” And she flew away. She did not wait till the end of the lesson. And from that day to this, thrushes have made their nests mostly of mud.
Then the teacher put a few sticks on top of the cake of mud.
“Who, who, who, I can do that,” said the owl, and she flew away. And no owl since that day owls has tried to make a better nest. She thought that was enough.
And the magpie took more sticks and wound them around the outsite.
“I’ll go and try to make a nest just like that,” called the sparrow. And to this day sparrows are pleased with very untidy nests.
Then the magpie took some straw and soft feathers and lined the nest with great care.
The starling showed her delight by a sweet whistle. “Straw and feather, weave together,” the starling called. And she flew away.
So all the birds learned something from the magpie, but none of them stayed till the end of the lesson. The last bird who stayed was the dove, but she didn’t care what the teacher was doing.
The magpie didn’t finish her lesson. “It is no use to teach birds who think they know everything,” she said. And she never tried to teach them again.
But the birds thought that there was nothing more to known about nest building.
That’s why since that day every bird has built its nest in its own way.
- Which of the birds could build pretty nests?
- At what time did the lesson begin?
- Which of the birds came first?
- How many birds came to the class?
- Which bird left the class first?
- Which bird stayed longest?
- How many kinds of things did the magpie use while she was building her nest?
I would like to add that bald eagles build the largest nests and the hummingbirds make the smallest nests. In my opinion golden-headed cisticola from Australia makes very unusual nests and is known as the “finest tailor of all birds”, because it constructs nests out of plants and spider threads. It uses spiderwebs to sew a living canopy out of leaves.
I think that the most surprising nest is the sociable weaver’s nest. The sociable weaver of southern Africa builds large, permanent nests for a community of birds, usually found around areas where the stiff, dry grass they use as a building material can be found. Some of these nests are the largest structures built by birds. It happens that the nest is so big that the tree simply cannot withstand and breaks, but these birds will build a new one.