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Species Guide
A photo of a Eurasian Magpie (Pica pica)
Eurasian Magpie

Eurasian Magpie

Pica pica

The Eurasian magpie, or common magpie (Pica pica), is a striking bird that graces the northern reaches of the Eurasian continent. It is a member of the crow family, known as corvids, and is part of the "monochrome" magpie group within the Holarctic radiation. The bird is easily recognized by its black and white plumage and long, iridescent tail.

Identification Tips

Adult Eurasian magpies measure 44–46 cm in length, with over half of this being the tail. They have a wingspan of 52–62 cm. The head, neck, and breast are glossy black with a metallic sheen of green and violet, while the belly and scapulars are pure white. The wings are black with green or purple gloss, and the primaries have white inner webs. The tail is black with green and reddish-purple gloss. Both sexes have similar plumage, though females are slightly smaller.


The Eurasian magpie favors open countryside with scattered trees, avoiding dense forests and treeless areas. It adapts well to suburban environments, including parks and gardens, and can be found in city centers.


This magpie's range spans temperate Eurasia from the western edges of Portugal and Spain to the eastern limits of the Kamchatka Peninsula.


The Eurasian magpie is known for its intelligence, comparable to that of great apes. It is monogamous, with pairs often remaining together across seasons. They are sedentary, though northern populations may move south in severe weather.

Song & Calls

The magpie's call is a distinctive "chac-chac" or a repetitive "chac-chac-chac-chac." Young birds emit a similar call and a high-pitched "Uik Uik," which can resemble a small dog's bark.


Magpies typically breed after their first year. They build large, domed nests in tall trees, laying clutches of five to six pale blue-green eggs, which are incubated for 21–22 days. The chicks are altricial and fledge at around 27 days, with parental care continuing for several weeks.

Similar Species

The Eurasian magpie can be confused with the North American black-billed magpie (Pica hudsonia), though they are now considered separate species.

Diet and Feeding

Omnivorous, the Eurasian magpie's diet includes young birds, eggs, small mammals, insects, carrion, acorns, grain, and other plant matter.

Conservation status

With an extensive range and stable population trends in Europe, the Eurasian magpie is classified by the IUCN as Least Concern. Estimates suggest a total population of 46 to 228 million individuals globally.

Eurasian Magpie Sounds

Recorded by: © 
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Eurasian Magpies on Birda


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