magpie

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Magpie One

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"A magpie can recognize its own reflection in a mirror."

Magpies are birds that live in a variety of habitats, including grasslands, meadows and the edges of dense forests. These birds are omnivores and insects, berries, nuts, and even small rodents. The large nests they build usually have two entrances. Magpies are known for their various chirps, squeals, warbles, whistles, and other sounds. They live in flocks or murder.

5 Magpie Facts

magpie in flight
Magpies can often form friendships with people.

©iStock.com/kojihirano

• A magpie's tail is as long as its body .
• These birds sometimes eat ticks from deer, elk and other large mammals.
• Magpies belong to the same family as jays and crows.
A touch of white feathers on the wings makes them stand out in flight.
• The bird lays 6 to 9 green/brown eggs .

Scientific name of magpie

Magpie - side view
The black-billed magpie's scientific name is Pica hudsonia .

© S. Shankar/Creative Commons



The black-billed magpie's scientific name is Pica hudsonia . The word pica is medieval Latin. It was given to a magpie because the bird will eat almost anything. Some other common names for this bird include American magpie, maggie, and flutebird.

It belongs to Corvidae, and its class is Aves. There are at least 17 species. The black-billed magpie, Australian magpie, Eurasian magpie, oriental magpie, and yellow-billed magpie are just a few examples of this species.

There are several species of magpies, which belong to the Corvidae family. Below is a list of magpie species organized by genus:

  1. pica
  • Black-billed Magpie (Pica hudsonia)
  • Yellow-billed Magpie (Pica nuttalli)
  • Eurasian Magpie (Pica pica)
  • Korean Magpie (Pica sericea)
  • Taiwan blue magpie (Urocissa caerulea)
  1. blue finch
  • Blue-winged Magpie (Cyanopica cyana)
  • Iberian Magpie (Cyanopica cooki)
  1. Urourosaurus
  • Sri Lankan blue magpie (Urocissa ornata)
  • Red-billed blue magpie (Urocissa erythroryncha)
  • White-winged Magpie (Urocissa whiteheadi)

It is important to note that the term "magpie" is sometimes used to refer to other corvids that are not strictly magpies.

Magpies appear

Magpie - in focus with faded background
The black-billed magpie has black and white plumage.

© Aviceda / Creative Commons

The black-billed magpie has black and white plumage. Additionally, it has blue/green glowing feathers on its wings. The Eurasian magpie is very similar in appearance to the black-billed magpie.

Australian magpies also have black and white plumage. However, unlike the other two, it has white feathers on the back of its neck. Plus, its bill is white and black.

Magpies have small black eyes, and they are always looking out for their surroundings. They have two black feet with three thin toes pointing forward and one pointing back. When these birds move, they take long, slow steps and appear to be strutting rather than just walking. This is another trait that has earned them their reputation as aggressive birds.

Magpie birds typically grow to around 19 inches. Connect two half pencils end to end and you have the length of a 19 inch magpie. However, they can grow to be close to 2 feet long.

At about 6 ounces, a magpie is a little lighter than the hamsters you might find at pet stores. The Eurasian magpie is the largest species of this bird, weighing up to 9.6 ounces.

evolution and origin

Magpies are a group of birds found all over the world, known for their striking black and white plumage, long tails and husky calls. The evolution and origin of magpies is fascinating because of their long history and wide range of adaptations.

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Magpies belong to the corvid family, which also includes crows, crows, and jays. The family is thought to have originated in the Paleogene period about 60 million years ago and has diversified into more than 120 species. Magpies are thought to have evolved from a crow-like ancestral bird that lived about 17 million years ago.

The earliest known magpie fossils are from the Miocene period, about 20 million years ago. The fossils have been found in both Europe and Asia, suggesting that magpies have a long history in both regions. Over time, magpies morphed into different species, each adapted to its particular environment.

One of the most famous magpie species is the Eurasian magpie (Pica pica), which is found throughout Europe and Asia. The Eurasian magpie has been the subject of many myths and legends, often associated with good luck or bad omen. It is a very intelligent bird, known for its problem-solving skills and ability to recognize itself in mirrors.

In North America, the black-billed magpie (Pica hudsonia) is a common species. It can be found throughout the western United States and parts of Canada and is known for its long, wedge-shaped tail and distinctive call. The black-billed magpie is an adaptable species that can thrive in a variety of habitats from grasslands to mountain forests.

magpie behavior

Australian magpie with canyon in the background
The aggressive behavior of the magpie is to protect its nest.

© iStock.com/paulacobleigh

A flock of magpies is known as a council, tribe, or mischief. Groups of magpies are also called killing people. Have you heard of the Crow Killing? Magpies and crows are one family. Therefore, both birds can be murdered or flocked.

Usually, a flock of magpies consists of a pair of mating magpies and their young. Therefore, a typical magpie flock will include about 8 birds. In colder regions, magpie flocks are larger. This allows them to roost together to keep warm.

Living in groups provides protection for magpies from predators such as hawks and owls. It is not uncommon to see a group of magpies working together to drive predators out of a nesting area. Magpies also seek shelter from predators in dense forests and woods.

These aggressive birds are not afraid to land on deer, elk, and other animals to eat ticks from their fur. Additionally, they are a common sight around farms, where they steal grain, seeds, and other food from the barn or from the ground. As such, they are considered a pest in many areas with agricultural land.

Habitat

Magpies make their home in various places around the world, including North America, parts of Europe, Africa and Asia, and the islands of Southeast Asia. They need a mild climate to survive.

Magpies live in grasslands, meadows and forest edges. These birds forage for food in open land, but live near dense forests so they can easily seek shelter from predators. Their nesting areas are usually in shrubs or trees near rivers and streams. This allows the birds to have easy access to water without having to move away from their chicks.

Some magpies living in northern regions will move slightly south when the cold season arrives. For example, black-billed magpies that live in the Colorado Rockies may move to lower elevations when the weather turns cold. However, they are not far from their year-round homes. For the most part, these birds do not migrate.

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population

It is estimated that there are more than 5 million black-billed magpies in North America. Their official conservation status is No Concern. Although these birds face some threats, their numbers remain stable. For example, some farmers consider them pests because they steal seeds and grain from around barns. Farmers may put poison to kill magpies that invade their property.

Some magpies elsewhere in the world are listed as endangered. For example, the Asir magpie population is declining due to habitat loss. The African juniper forests where they live are being logged.

Additionally, the Javan green magpie is critically endangered. The magpie population is dwindling in Southeast Asia as they are trapped by humans to be sold as pets.

Scientists believe there are an estimated 19 million breeding pairs of Eurasian magpies. Their conservation status is Not Concerned, with a stable population.

The Australian magpie is also at Least Concern and its numbers are increasing.

diet

what do magpies eat
Magpies eat fruit, grasshoppers, grains and beetles.

© AZ-Animals.com

What do magpies eat? Magpies are omnivores, so they are not limited to eating plants or animals. They eat the most abundant food source in their environment at the time. Grasshoppers, berries, nuts, beetles, caterpillars and rodents are on the menu.

These birds sometimes steal eggs and even chicks from other birds' nests. For this reason, magpies are sometimes called nest predators.

Also, magpies have been known to follow coyotes or foxes when they are out hunting. This way the birds can steal some of the meat from the animals killed by these predators.

For a complete breakdown of a magpie's diet, be sure to read our comprehensive guide "What Do Magpies Eat?" 25 Foods They Eat.

predator

Magpies have several predators, including domestic cats, dogs, foxes, and owls. Additionally, raccoons, hawks, weasels and minks may steal eggs and chicks from the nest.

Magpies are brave birds that are not afraid to hang out near people and populated areas. They steal food from trash cans and may even try to eat from bird feeders. This activity makes them vulnerable to cats and dogs in the area.

Reproduction and Life Cycle

Birds That Eat Wasps: Yellow-billed Magpie
The breeding season for black-billed magpies runs from March to July.

© iStock.com/Banu R

The breeding season for black-billed magpies runs from March to July. Male magpies try to get the attention of female magpies by showing off the glowing white feathers on their wings.

Once a male and female are a breeding pair, they stay together until one of them dies. If one of them dies, the other magpie may find another mate, but this is not certain.

Male magpies and female magpies build nests together. The birds build an unusually large nest out of twigs, grass, rope, hair, vines and dirt. The average nest is 20 inches wide and 30 inches high. Interestingly, the magpie's nest has a canopy or roof, made of tree branches, and two entrances. These birds sometimes build nests on tree branches as high as 30 feet.

A female magpie lays 6 to 9 eggs per clutch (group). It takes 16 to 21 days for the eggs to hatch. Each egg is more than an inch long. While the female magpie sits on the egg, the male magpie searches for food to feed his mate.

Small magpies are called chicks. Once it leaves the nest and begins to explore its environment, it is called a fledgling. These birds are born blind and have no feathers. During the first week of life, the chicks develop a coat of downy feathers and open their eyes around day 10. Male and female magpies take turns bringing small insects and other food to the chicks. Baby magpies leave the nest when they are about 25 days old.

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Young magpies stay with their parents in the flock for about two years. They are then driven out of the flock to form another group.

The average life span of black-billed magpies in the wild is 3.5 years for males and 2 years for females. Alternatively, captive magpies can live up to 20 years. The longest-lived magpie on record was a Eurasian magpie at 21 years and 8 months.

As magpies age, they can develop many of the same respiratory problems as other birds. Additionally, they can be infested with parasites such as ectoparasites and lice, which shorten their lifespan.

zoo

• Visit and learn more about the blue-winged magpie at the Memphis Zoo.
• Visit the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens to see the Yellow-billed Magpie.
• The Minnesota Zoo exhibited an Oriental magpie for viewing.

See all 161 animals that start with M

Magpies are birds in the same family as crows and jays. It is omnivorous and eats insects, rodents, fruits, nuts, etc. At least 17 species of magpies live on different continents.

According to bird symbolism in Western culture, the magpie represents bad luck. However, in the bird symbolism embraced by Eastern cultures, the magpie represents good luck. Maybe they don't represent either!

The magpie is a bird known for its bold personality and intelligence. They are also known for their calls and songs. Many birds sing or make several calls, but magpies chatter, whistle, trill and warble. These birds have even been known to mimic surrounding sounds, such as wind chimes or a dog barking. Not surprisingly, when groups or flocks of magpies start calling to each other, the sounds can get really loud!

Magpies are not dangerous; however, they are territorial birds. This means they don't like other animals approaching their nests. Usually, when a predator such as a hawk or raccoon tries to steal an egg from a magpie's nest, a flock of magpies will attempt to drive the intruder away.

If a person gets too close to a magpie's nest, the magpie may flap its wings in an attempt to scare the person away. A magpie will do this to protect its young, even if the person is harmless.

Magpies are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and other animals.

Magpies belong to the animal kingdom.

Magpies belong to the phylum Chordate.

Magpies belong to the class Aves.

Magpies belong to the Corvidae family.

Magpies belong to the order Passeriformes.

Magpies belong to the genus Magpie.

Magpies are covered with feathers.

Magpies live in open woodlands, grasslands and savannas.

Magpies eat fruit, nuts, seeds, and insects.

Predators of magpies include foxes, cats and coyotes.

Magpies have black and white markings and a long, wedge-shaped tail.

Magpies usually lay 3 eggs.

The scientific name of the magpie is Pica Pica.

Magpies can live 8 to 15 years.

Magpies have a wingspan of 52 cm to 60 cm (20 inches to 24 inches).

Magpies can travel at speeds of up to 20 miles per hour.