Pica Tidings: Magpies in science & culture

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Magpies around the world have long been creatures of lore, omen, portent.

I grew up in an area where black-billed magpie (Pica pica) are common. In the course of writing about the natural and cultural history of my childhood landscape, I recently started researching what we know about them from historical, cultural, and scientific perspectives.

Right now, this exploration is developing into a long-form essay about how smart we now know corvids are, how they are good and bad luck, depending on your culture, and how essential magpies are (as scavengers) for nutrient cycling.