Today, March 14, is traditionally celebrated as Pi Day -- because when the date is written 3/14, it represents the first three significant numbers of Pi. Pie day may be celebrated by eating pie, but since we like birds, today seems like a good day to celebrate the family of birds that has pie right in the name: Magpies!
There are three groups of true magpies. The four species of magpie in the genus Pica are the Holarctic, or black-and-white, magpies. The nine species of Oriental magpie are generally blue-green and are in the Urocissa genus and the Cissa genus. The azure-winged magpie belongs in the genus Cyanopica. Here are some fun facts about this group of intelligent and curious birds.
Magpies belong to the Corvid family, which makes them closely related to birds like jays, crows, and ravens.
There are several collective nouns used to describe a group of magpies, including "a gulp of magpies" and "a mischief of magpies."
Magpies aren't the only birds with "pie" in their name. Another group in the Corvid family is the treepies. One bird in this group has a confusing name: the Black Magpie of Asia.
Another bird with a confusing name is the Australian Magpie. This species isn't a magpie at all! Although its black-and-white plumage is very magpie-like, this species belongs in a different genus and is closely related to the Butcherbirds of Australasia.
A recent taxonomical split may have added a new species of magpie to the list. The Azure-winged Magpie has an usual fragmented range with part of the population in southwestern Europe and part over in eastern Asia. Some ornithologists consider the two populations to be separate species, naming the European bird the Iberian Magpie.
The Javan Green Magpie is the most endangered species of magpie. Endemic to Indonesia, it is considered to be Critically Endangered by the IUCN. Other endemic species of magpie include the Sri Lanka Blue Magpie, found only in Sri Lanka, and the Yellow-billed Magpie, found only in the U.S. state of California.
This Saturday, March 14th, is Pi Day! This year Pi Day has an extra significance on 3/14/15 at 9:26:53 a.m. and p.m., with the date and time representing the first 10 digits of the digit π. This only happens every one hundred years, so celebrate this very special Pi Day in style with this cute coloring page from Birdorable. A Black-billed Magpie (or Eurasian Magpie, it's your pick) is sitting on a large π symbol. It's your job to color the bird and Pi however you like, but if you want some hints you can have a look at the profile pages for each bird. If you can't get enough you can find dozens of other Birdorable coloring and activity pages in our Downloads section. Have fun and enjoy 3/14/15!
We're adding a new bird each day until we reach our 500th Birdorable species! Today's Bonanza bird is the Australian Magpie.
Australian Magpies are not closely related to the magpies found in Europe or the Americas. When European naturalists came to settle in Australia, they noted the plumage of the new Australian species was similar to the Eurasian Magpie. They named the bird after their old familiar. Did you know that the American Robin was named in the same fashion? It is not related to the European Robin, but both species share a brownish plumage with a rich reddish-orange breast.
Australian Magpie by Lip Kee (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Australian Magpies are conspicuous and common within their range. They are omnivorous and are well-adapted to a variety of habitat types. They enjoy popularity in Australia and are the mascot for several sports teams as well as the official emblem of the Government of South Australia. Although they are popular, during breeding season they can be a menace as they fiercely protect their nest site. They may swoop down on anyone they perceive as a threat to their territory. August to October is the peak season for magpie attacks, and both pedestrians and cyclists are deemed fair game.
Tomorrow's new species is a North American songbird with a buzzy song and blue wings.
Today, March 14th, is Pi Day, the day that mathematicians celebrate the number that is approximately 3.14159. Send your friends our funny Birdorable Mag PI with this comment graphic, Facebook Gift or eCard.
Scientists at the Goethe University in Frankfurt have been studying European Magpies to prove that these smart birds are not bird-brained. It is widely accepted that self-awareness is a prerequisite for the development of consciousness. Besides humans, there had already been evidence that bottlenose dolphins, other apes and elephants have the capability to be self aware. Now magpies can be added to the list. The researchers used a series of tests to determine if their hand-raised birds could recognize themselves in a mirror.
They placed yellow and red stickers on the birds in places where they could only be seen in a mirror. The magpies became focused on removing the stickers after seeing them in the mirror and tried to scratch them off with their claws and beaks. After removing the sticker they would stop this behavior. The researchers also found that the birds would ignore the stickers if they were placed where they could not see them in the mirror or when the stickers were black in color. Here's a short video of the magpie and the mirror:
Today is Pi Day. Not the sweet and delicious kind, but π as in the mathematical number "3.1415926...", hence it is celebrated on March 14th, or 3/14 on the American calendar. The first Pi Day was held at the San Francisco Exploratorium in 1988 with people marching around in circles and eating fruit pies. It is a fun holiday for mathematicians and it also happens to be Albert Einstein's birthday. Here are two Birdorable Pi designs for this occasion: