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The Magpie Teaching A Wood Pigeon How To Make A Nest


Source: Welsh Folk-lore

The wood pigeon makes an untidy nest, consisting of a few bits of twigs
placed one on the other without much care. There is a fable in the Iolo
MSS., p. 159, in Welsh, and the translation appears on page 567 in
English, as follows:--

The magpie, observing the slight knowledge of nest building possessed by
the wood pigeon, kindly undertook the work of giving his friend a lesson
in the art, and as the lesson proceeded, the wood pigeon, bowing, cooed

Mi wn! Mi wn! Mi wn!

I know! I know! I know!

The instructor was at first pleased with his apt pupil, and proceeded
with his lesson, but before another word could be uttered, the bird
swelling with pride at its own importance and knowledge, said again:--

I know! I know! I know!

The magpie was annoyed at this ignorant assurance, and with bitter
sarcasm said: Since you know, do it then, and this is why the wood
pigeon's nest is so untidy in our days. In its own mind it knew all
about nest building, and was above receiving instruction, and hence its
present clumsy way of building its nest. This fable gave rise to a
proverb, As the wood pigeon said to the magpie: 'I know.'

It is believed that when wood pigeons are seen in large flocks it is a
sign of foul weather.

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