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Eurasian Magpie

From Opus

Photo by henkdikkersNuis, The Netherlands, January 2007
Photo by henkdikkers
Nuis, The Netherlands, January 2007

Alternative Name: Common Magpie; Pied Magpie

Pica pica

Includes: Arabian Magpie; Oriental Magpie; Black-rumped Magpie; Kamchatka Magpie; Maghreb Magpie


[edit] Identification

Photo by Florian AndronacheRomania, May 2008
Photo by Florian Andronache
Romania, May 2008

Length 46–50 cm (18-19¾ in); weight 187-268 g (male), 161-240 g (female)

  • Black head, neck, breast and back
  • Prominent white side patches and belly
  • Wings and tail, whilst looking black in certain lights, are actually bluey-green and purple
  • Very long tail, diamond-shaped when spread out

[edit] Subspecies Variations

subspecies P. p. bactrianaPhoto by Rajiv LatherLeh, India, October 2006
subspecies P. p. bactriana
Photo by Rajiv Lather
Leh, India, October 2006
  • P. p. bottanensis has a black rump, a short tail, a stout bill and only little gloss in plumage
  • P. p. serica is dark and small and has a short tail
  • P. p. mauritanica has a patch of blue bare skin behind the eye
  • P. p. asirensis is darker, has a black rump, less white in plumage and a short tail

Sexes are similar. Juveniles are duller than adults.

[edit] Distribution

Found in most of Europe, the Middle East, northern Africa (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia), Saudi Arabia (Asir massif), central Asia to China, Korea, Japan and east Siberia.
Widespread and common in most of its range.

[edit] Taxonomy

This species was formerly considered conspecific with Black-billed Magpie P. hudsonia.

[edit] Subspecies

Oriental Magpie P. p. sericaPhoto by anonymous_guyLamma Island, Hong Kong
Oriental Magpie P. p. serica
Photo by anonymous_guy
Lamma Island, Hong Kong
Subspecies mauretanica; Maghreb MagpiePhoto by kittywakeAgadir, Morocco, December 2017
Subspecies mauretanica; Maghreb Magpie
Photo by kittywake
Agadir, Morocco, December 2017
JuvenilePhoto by Mohamad KamraniNahavand, Iran
Photo by Mohamad Kamrani
Nahavand, Iran

About 12 subspecies are recognised[1]:

  • P. p. pica:
  • P. p. fennorum:
  • P. p. galliae:
  • P. p. melanotos:
  • P. p. mauretanica (Maghreb Magpie):
  • P. p. asirensis (Arabian Magpie):
  • Assir Mountains (south-western Arabia)
  • P. p. bactriana:
  • P. p. hemileucoptera:
  • P. p. leucoptera:
  • Southern Transbaicalia to eastern Mongolia and Altai Mountains
  • P. p. camtschatica (Kamchatka Magpie):
  • Northern shores of Sea of Okhotsk to Kamchatka Peninsula
  • P. p. bottanensis (Black-rumped or Tibetian Magpie):
  • P. p. serica (alternative spelling sericea (Oriental Magpie):

Several of the subspecies are likely to be split as distinct species in the future, with P. p. serica, P. p. mauretanica, and P. p. asirensis the strongest contenders[2]. P. p. asirensis is already treated as a separate species by some authors[3]. See also this forum thread discussing possible splits.

[edit] Habitat

Farmland and open country. Also town gardens and parks.

[edit] Behaviour

Walks and will hop sideways.

[edit] Flight

Quick, with deep, fast, even wing beats. Short glides.

[edit] Diet

Omnivorous. Feeds mainly on invertebrates, small mammals, lizards, frogs, bird eggs, nestlings and carrion. Often caches food.

[edit] Breeding

Builds a domed nest in tall trees, or hedgerows which often contains shiny objects

[edit] Vocalisation

Harsh "chack, chack, chack".

Listen in an external program

[edit] References

  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. Downloaded from
  2. Gill, F and D Donsker (Eds). 2014. IOC World Bird Names (version 4.4). Available at
  3. Del Hoyo, J, A Elliott, and D Christie, eds. 2009. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 14: Bush-shrikes to Old World Sparrows. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8496553507
  4. Birdwatchers Pocket Guide ISBN 1-85732-804-3
  5. Collins Pocket Guide to British Birds 1966
  6. Collins Field Guid 5th Edition

[edit] External Links


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