Even dedicated animal lovers may have their patience tested by one unusual aspect of the bird kingdom: the attraction some species of bird hold for shiny objects, such as jewelry. This attraction can lead birds to enter a house or even try to steal a shiny object. Birds may desire these objects to attract mates, or to decorate their nests to help visiting females feel more comfortable, as suggested on the MadSci Network website.
The blue jay, despite its name, has only either black or white feathers, and not blue plumage, though its feathers appear blue to the casual observer. Part of the Corvid family, the small blue jay shares the affinity of other birds in its family, such as magpies, for shiny objects. Since human activity has reduced the amount of forest available for the blue jay to nest in, this creature has become increasingly widespread in urban areas. The public may spot these birds searching the garbage on the lookout for shiny treasures.
The mynah bird is a part of the starling family, which includes such species as the Hill mynah and the Bali mynah. Strong-legged birds, all starlings are noted for their waddle when walking and their speedy method of flying. Some people keep mynahs as a pet, and when in captivity, these birds are entertained by toys such as bells and mirrors. Despite originating in Asia, mynah birds are now seen in the U.S., thanks to importation.
Perhaps one of the best-known examples of a bird that likes shiny things, the magpie has entered into popular folklore as an animal that, given a chance, will attempt to steal a trinket or similar object. The magpie has a distinctive appearance, being black and white in color, with green and blue hues among its feathers. The magpie is made even easier to recognize thanks to its rattling call. Thankfully for owners of expensive jewelry, groups of magpies are skittish and easily startled if confronted by humans.
Another member of the Corvid family, the jackdaw is similar to the magpie in the sense that it has acquired a reputation for pinching shiny objects when it gets the opportunity to do so. In fact, its name may have been inspired by its penchant for thievery, since the word jack traditionally describes a thief. A small bird by the standards of the rest of its family, the jackdaw often nests in urban areas, and is drawn to constructing nests in houses with open fires.
- MadSci Network; Zoology; Re: Why do Magpies like shiny objects; June Wingert; July 23, 1999
- Spira Canada; The Blue Jay; 2005
- Mynah Bird; Cage Page; The Right Stuff for Your Pet Mynah; Kathy Butterfield; 2010
- Honolulu Zoo: Mynah Bird
- Nature Grid: Biodiversity: The Crow Family (Corvidae)
- B.B.C.: Nature Wildlife: Jackdaw
About the Author
Simon Fuller has been a freelance writer since 2008. His work has appeared in "Record Collector," "OPEN" and the online publication, brand-e. Fuller has a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Reading and a postgraduate diploma from the London School of Journalism.