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Magpie shiny objects obsession debunked

Posted on Sunday, 17 August, 2014 | Comment icon 9 comments

Magpies have long been associated with stealing valuables. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 Tatiana Bulyonkova
Scientists have discovered that Magpies have no interest whatsoever in stealing shiny objects.
The infamous black and white birds have long been associated with the theft of jewelery and other valuables due to their alleged obsession with shiny objects, an unfortunate reputation that has since turned out to be nothing more than a myth.

In a new study conducted at Exeter University, scientists placed two piles of shiny objects, one covered in blue paint, next to some bird food to see what the magpies would do.

During the test the birds appeared to be hesitant to go near the objects and ate less of the food when either pile was present. On the odd occasion that a magpie did pick up one of the shiny objects it seemed to discard it again straight away.

The team concluded that the birds were actually scared of the objects because they were unfamiliar.

"We did not find evidence of an unconditional attraction to shiny objects in magpies," said lead author Dr Toni Shephard. "Instead, all objects prompted responses indicating neophobia fear of new things."

Source: BBC News | Comments (9)

Tags: Magpie

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Sundew on 16 August, 2014, 12:09
So no reward then?
Comment icon #2 Posted by Oppono Astos on 16 August, 2014, 20:14
Or the magpies are smarter than the researchers and didn't play the game...
Comment icon #3 Posted by bobb73 on 18 August, 2014, 6:27
I call BULLSH*T!!!!
Comment icon #4 Posted by chopmo on 18 August, 2014, 11:50
Why the hell would they try a feed trial? They are not consuming the jewellery/shiny things as food, it is either a qwerk of kleptomaniac and/or nest building tactics through habbits grown over generations that wire and things similar (shiny) are good nest building tools, as the birds themselves are strong enough to minipulate them to shape. If someone put a hammer in one corner of the room and a buffet table in the other corner, most animals including our species would choose the buffet.
Comment icon #5 Posted by shrooma on 18 August, 2014, 13:08
scientists. conducting pointless research since the formation of the first grant commitee.....
Comment icon #6 Posted by YukiEsmaElite0 on 20 August, 2014, 18:56
This is the worst possible test they could have done... Oh Gods... *facepalm x2*
Comment icon #7 Posted by minera on 28 August, 2014, 5:20
maybe they could explain their theories to the annoying magpies in my yard. I used an aluminum plate weighted with stones and filled it with water and put it in the birdbath as the birdbath leaked. they took the rocks and flew with them across the street then they came back and took the plate!Scavengers!!
Comment icon #8 Posted by Red Howler on 28 August, 2014, 10:28
As a kid my toy jewels and beads disappeared from when I was playing with them in the back garden. There wasn't any magpies. I later found them under some holly bushes at the very back end, where grass snakes lived and I couldn't get them back. I doubt birds put them in there.
Comment icon #9 Posted by Realm on 28 August, 2014, 13:54
Magpie. What a cool name. If I was a bird I'd want to be a magpie.

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