This is a magpie egg.
Some people seem to have it in for magpies, blaming it for persecuting other song birds. Studies have shown that the increase in magpie numbers has nothing to do with the decline of some other species, but this hasn’t stopped some people trapping and killing them.
Looked at objectively magpies are attractive black and white birds, with a purplish-blue iridescent sheen to the wing feathers and a green gloss to the tail. One folk-tale explains the magpie’s black-and-white plumage with the story that after the crucifixion the magpie was the only bird to refuse to dress in full black mourning and was, therefore, condemned to wear ‘half-mourning’ (black and white) for ever afterwards.
This refusal was probably not because it was a bad bird by nature, but because it is a famously mischievous creature; a born contrarian; a scallywag. Another tale, for example, says it was the only bird not to go into Noah’s ark – it preferred to sit outside on the roof chattering.
The most famous popular naturalist of the nineteenth century, the eccentric clergyman J.G. Wood, had a pet magpie and he loved this aspect of its character. He ran a school in which all the boys were encouraged to keep pet snakes and hang upside down from the top of trees. Mag, the pet magpie, was loved by both master and pupils:
"He is a great plague to the household department, for he makes it a point of honour to undo whatever they have just been arranging. For example, one of the servants had been employing herself in beating the dust out of a doormat, and when she had completed her task replaced the mat. But Mag had been looking on, and instantly set to work. He hopped off into the yard, and returned with a beakful of dust, which he threw down on the mat … "
(My Feathered Friends, p.141)
J. G. Wood and his pupils loved this anarchic impudence. As far as we know, Jesus didn’t have anything to say about magpies, yet it’s hard to believe he wouldn’t have enjoyed it too. After all, just when the authorities thought they’d got the situation tidied up by getting rid of Jesus, he goes and spoils their plans by not staying dead.
‘The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. "Sir," they said, "we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, 'After three days I will rise again.' So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first." "Take a guard," Pilate answered. "Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how." So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.’
‘Father, we thank you for your freedom and for your anarchic energy. We thank you that we cannot pin you down and that you break into our smug self-sufficiency and pride. Amen.’