Contrary to pretty much all popular opinion magpies may actually be scared of shiny objects and do not steal trinkets.

That's according to scientists from Exeter University’s Centre for Research in Animal Behaviour (CRAB), who have published research debunking the myth of the "thieving magpie" in the journal of Animal Cognition today.

Lead author Dr Toni Shephard said they found that shiny objects actually scared the birds.

We suggest that humans notice when magpies occasionally pick up shiny objects because they believe the birds find them attractive, while it goes unnoticed when magpies interact with less eye-catching items. It seems likely, therefore, that the folklore surrounding them is a result of cultural generalisation and anecdotes rather than evidence.

More: ‘The thieving magpie’? No evidence for attraction to shiny objects

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