David Trevan's picture

Magpies on back of Highland Cows

Observed: 29th June 2012 By: David Trevan
Isle of Wight Natural History & Archaeological Soc
David Trevan’s reputation in BirdsDavid Trevan’s reputation in BirdsDavid Trevan’s reputation in BirdsDavid Trevan’s reputation in Birds

Is this normal magpie behaviour? A group of them were perched on the back of a Highland cow in close to where I live. They appeared to be pecking things( parasites?) from the back of the animal. Never seen this before.
Sorry about the photo quality, at the limit of my zoom!

Species interactions

No interactions present.

Species with which Black-billed Magpie (Pica pica) interacts


Fenwickfield's picture

seen it

Hi David
I have seen this with Jackdaws on Tups and Ewes too so it must be a common thing it happens in other countries so why not here



Amadan's picture

As Fenwickfield says -

It's quite often seen, and in the UK the birds are often of the corvid persuasion. I've seen jackdaws, magpies, and crows do it over the years.
There have been tales of crows pecking the eyes out of some livestock: these seem to "do the rounds" every few years - which makes one wonder if it is real behaviour that the birds learn from parents, or an un-urban "urban myth".

Fenwickfield's picture


I would say a myth as I have lived in a rural area (farm) all my life and have only ever seen the eyes out of dead stock never an attack on a healthy animal.