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One for sorrow,
Two for joy,
Three for a girl,
Four for a boy,
Five for silver,
Six for gold,
Seven for a secret,
Never to be told.
Eight for a wish,
Nine for a kiss,
Ten for a bird,
You must not miss. 

So the modern version of the rhyme goes. The original version, first recorded in 1780, was a little more sinister – One for sorrow, Two for mirth, Three for a funeral, Four for birth, Five for heaven, Six for hell, Seven for the devil, his own self – reflecting the common perception of magpies as birds of ill omen.

160428 magpie (1)

The magpie, with the easiest-to-remember scientific name of Pica pica, is a member of the corvidae family which also includes jays and crows, ravens and jackdaws. One look at that strong beak shows the similarity. But these birds also have other things in common: they are intelligent, able to solve problems and have excellent memory. They have a strong sense of curiosity, are sociable and are brilliant mimics. Many people think of magpies as black and white but, of course, they’re not. As soon as the sunshine strikes their back, wing and tail feathers, you can see what a gorgeous bluish sheen they feathers have.

 160428 magpie (3)

My question is: what does it mean when you see 12 magpies together?

160428 magpie (2)