Villagers take a shine to tame magpie, Bernard
Bernard the magpie was hand-reared at Brinsley Rescue Centre and when he was released into the wild, he flew back.
He now sleeps at the centre, taps on the window for his breakfast in the morning and spends his days visiting neighbours in the village who chat to him, feed him and keep him company.
Bernard visits Gayle Barnes for a bath and a snack of mealworms each day, and often perches on Dan Cauldwell’s work bench keeping him company while he works in his garage.
A huge search party was recently launched after one neighbour - fed up with Bernard’s visits - drove him to Moorgreen and let him go.
Outraged villagers - many in tears over Bernard’s disappearance - searched the area and eventually found him a week later at Beauvale Priory.
Louise Barker who found him said: “He naturally wanted to gravitate towards people so he flew to the priory and I found him in the tea room. He’s just so lovely. I was so relieved.”
When Bernard isn’t visiting the neighbours he is following rescue centre owners Jon Beresford and Beth Hewis around the sanctuary, perched on their head or shoulders, or perched on Jeff the sheep.
The magpie shares a stable with Borris the Bull and wakes up at about 6am.
“He’ll land on the window and just start tapping,” said Jon.
“He often bangs on our bedroom window for food as well and if we have our bedroom window open we call him and he’ll fly in!”
Cheeky Bernard gets up to all sorts of tricks, but residents in Brinsley have fallen head over heels in love with him, said the rescue centre manager.
“We ate outside a couple of weeks ago and he was drinking out of our glasses and pinching the croutons in our salad.
“Then he went into our bedroom and started throwing Beth’s makeup out the window!,” he said.
“The neighbours absolutely adore him. When he went missing people were crying over it.
“They have become fascinated by him and really attached to him. They love the way he goes from house to house banging on windows for attention. Although sometimes he just flies straight through unannounced,” added Jon.
Gayle Barnes house is a favourite stop-off for Bernard and he goes there every day for his bath and mealworms.
She said: “We love him so much. I was mortified when he went missing. I was out every night shaking his meal worms and calling him. He’s like a third child to me now!”
Bernard has his own Facebook page with a 600 followers, where locals post pictures of his daily antics.
But despite being an unusually tame bird, Bernard has all the characteristics of a magpie and villagers make sure they keep their jewellery locked away.
Dan Cauldwell restores narrow boats and Bernard visits him most days to perch on his workbench.
But recently Dan was left searching for a rare piece of tubing belonging to a 1930s boat after one of Bernard’s visits.
“Luckily Bernard brought it home to us so we found it,” said Jon. “Apparently the part was so old it was irreplaceable.”
The cheeky magpie has also stolen a set of screwdriver bits out a plumber’s van and a paintbrush off someone who was doing up their summerhouse.
“Apparently the man painting had wondered where his brush had gone and then noticed Bernard’s footprints in blue on the floor! We had him come home absolutely covered in paint.”
And Bernard loves company so much that when there is an event or an open day at the rescue centre, he hangs around all day long.
“We had over a 1,000 people at the last open day and he didn’t leave for a minute. He was on the tables where the teas and coffees were chatting away to people.”
Bernard was taken to Brinsley Animal Rescue Centre after falling from a nest when a tree was chopped down in nearby woods.
Jon and Beth hand reared him with minimal human contact until he could feed himself – as they do with all wild animals at the centre.
But when they let them go, Bernard obviously didn’t want to leave.
“I don’t know what happened with Bernard. For some reason he decided he wasn’t a magpie, he was a human,” said Jon.
“Magpies are very intelligent birds. He obviously bonded strongly, very quickly with us.”
Despite the couple’s efforts to shoe him away, Bernard kept coming back. And a couple of days later Jon saw him in the village surrounded by fascinated locals.
“I could see loads of people crowded around a fence. He was chatting away to everyone and they were fascinated.”
Jon said the neighbours ‘utterly adored him’.
“Since he went missing the neighbours have put posters up around Brinsley and put leaflets through doors asking people to take care of him and keep him safe. They just utterly adore him.”