Magpies may not like shiny things after all, according to Exeter University study

Magpies may not like shiny things after all
Magpies may not like shiny things after all (Picture: File/Metro)

The old adage Magpies like to steal shiny things may actually be wrong, with a new study suggesting they’re afraid of bright objects.

It had long been rumoured the birds liked to decorate their nests with sparkly jewels but this has now been disputed by researchers at Exeter University.

The scientists held an experiment, which involved them piling up a number of shiny objects, including foil rings and screws, along with ones painted in matt blue.

They then placed some food (nuts) next to the stack for the magpies to eat.

After 64 tests they found the birds only grabbed the shiny objects twice, and when they did they dropped them immediately.

‘We did not find evidence of an unconditional attraction to shiny objects in magpies,’ said lead author of the report Dr Toni Shephard.

‘Instead, all objects prompted responses indicating neophobia – fear of new things.’

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16 August 2014 | 5:39 pm – Source:

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