An traditional British rhyme predicts a person's fate based on how many magpies they've seen: "one for sadness, two for joy, three for a funeral, and four for birth." Some believe that if you don't salute a passing magpie, bad luck will wait eagerly around the next corner. Others say you should give it a wave or shout "good morning!"
Magpies are famous for their cheeky nature and ability to get other birds' attention with their loud calls. They also have distinctive black and white plumage which helps people identify them from a distance. Thus, by waving or shouting at a magpie you are showing it respect and letting it know that you haven't been attacked yet.
People used to kill magpies to use their feathers in costumes and as decorations. Now that they're protected by law, nobody can make money off of magpies. However, we still admire them for their beauty and try to protect them wherever possible.
We're not sure why this happens, but we do know that magpies frequently marry for life, so seeing a solitary magpie may indicate that it has lost its mate, increasing the likelihood of it bringing ill luck. According to the poem, encountering a greater flock of magpies can bring you good fortune and money.
In England, where they are also called jackdaws because they look like their American cousin, the sight of one means death is on its way. The daw is believed to be an omen of war, so if you see one, there's no need to worry about your fate - yet.
In Ireland, where they are known as crows, they bring bad news. If you see a group of them flying low in lines across a field, some evil force is nearby. They are telling you to run for your life!
In Germany, where they are called meese, they are considered protective spirits. If one crosses your path, it is warning you not to go somewhere dangerous. It is said that if you see many meese, something good will happen to you.
In India, they are called piebald birds because of the mix of black and white feathers on their bodies. This species is often associated with misfortune, especially loss of life, but there are also stories of their bringing good luck.
Magpies have different connotations in different places of the world. For example, if you see a single magpie in Korea, it indicates that people will be visiting you. In China, seeing a magpie means you'll have good luck and happiness, and in certain parts of the world, it's regarded a holy bird.
In England, if a magpie visits you, it is considered very bad luck. They say that if a magpie tells you three times "You had better go," then it is a sign that something terrible will happen to you.
In America, if you see a group of magpies, it means good news is coming your way. If a lone magpie visits you, it is a sign that some trouble is about to come up for someone close to you. If you see several magpies, they are happy and want to tell you about something nice happening in your life.
Magpies are famous for their gossiping ways. If one of them visits you, there's a chance that someone important in your life wants to tell you about a promotion or new job. If you see several magpies, it means there's going to be news about some person who is not alive today.
They also like to tease people so if a magpie bites you, it means that someone you don't like laughed at you.