The chattering of a magpie was formerly considered a sure
omen of evil. Another folk belief was that the croaking of a single
magpie around a house signified that one of the inhabitants
would soon die. In parts of Britain and Ireland it was believed
that evil could be averted by being respectful to a magpie—
bowing or doffing one’s hat. Irish folk would sometimes say
‘‘Good morning, your reverence’’ on seeing a magpie first
thing in the morning. The magpie also figured in the folklore
of the American Indians and was a clan animal among the

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