Magpies are part of the crow family, and are one of the cleverest animals, able to recognise themselves in mirrors. They were originally known as "pies" (meaning "pointed"). "Mag", short for "Margaret", was added as it was a general term for a woman, and the sound of the bird was said to sound like women chattering. Adult birds moult completely once a year beginning in June or July.
Magpies are common in folktales.A traditional rhyme, "one for sorrow, two for joy", imagines that the number of magpies seen can bring good or bad luck. The magpie features in a Rossini opera "The Thieving Magpie", where a servant is sent to the gallows, blamed for the theft of items which in fact the magpie has taken. This echoes a common belief that magpies are attracted to shiny objects.
Listen to a magpie here: