Magpie – 1994

Pica pica – PIODEN – Breeding resident

1984-88
Breeding confirmed368
Breeding probable26
Breeding possible53
No of tetrads occupied447 (of 478)
Percentage of tetrads93.5%

The Magpie was a numerous resident according to both Mathew (1894) and Lockley et al. (1949). They were once persecuted in Pembrokeshire. Some idea of the scale can be gained from noting that 113 were killed on the Cawdor Estate at Stackpole in 1821 (Carmarthen County Records Office, Box 1-234) and by Lloyd’s diary entry for 1930 where he noted 60 strung up on one gibbet at Slebech. Such draconian measures diminished after the war and Magpies increased. They may now have reached optimum numbers and are found breeding throughout the county, in exposed places nesting in low thorns and gorse,,like those that have colonised Ramsey and Skomer.

The distance between nests was plotted in sample areas during 1987 and the results gave an average density of about 50 pairs per tetrad. Applying this to the results of the Breeding Birds Survey of 1984-1988 suggests a total population of 22,000 pairs. They habitually visit roads and verges to feed upon mammals, birds and insects knocked down by traffic, while each year many newly fledged Magpies also become casualties before they have learnt the art of avoiding approaching vehicles.

Lockley (1957) stated that winter roosts of 100 were common. In modern times 50-60 has been more normal, though up to 80 have been recorded at Goodwick and 112 at Plumstone.

Donovan J.W. & Rees G.H, 1994, Birds of Pembrokeshire

LLOYD, B. 1925—1939. Diaries. National Library of Wales.

LOCKLEY, R.M. 1957. Pembrokeshire. London, Robert Hale.

More about the Magpie in Pembrokeshire