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Welcome relief from sorrow

Sir -- Full marks to Joe Kennedy for his humorous treatise on the bold and cheeky bird we all know as the magpie (Sunday Independent, February 13, 2011). As always, such information gives us some light diversion from the hostile language of recession, unemployment and repossessions.

It is interesting to note that, in Ireland, magpie numbers have increased greatly while those of smaller birds have diminished, ie better chance now of getting "five for silver or six for gold" rather than the menacing "one for sorrow". Additional data for the magpie -- it builds a roofed nest, it "steals" shiny objects like jewellery and it's one of the few species known to be able to recognise itself in a mirror test!

Damien Boyd,

Frankfield, Cork

Sunday Independent