Magpie Pica pica   [Linnaeus, 1758]

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Order: Passeriformes Family: Corvidae
BTO Codes: MG, MAGPI EURING No: 15490
Number in Britain: 550 thousand Territories (Summer)
Conservation Status:
European: Not a species of concern
Global: (Details)
Status in UK: (A)  Resident Breeder
Subspecies: pica recorded in Britain (of 11 subsp. in the world)
Length: 45 cm Wingspan: 56 cm Weight: M: 240 g   F: 200 g    
Scientific name from: L.: pica=magpie (also generally for pied birds)
World Distribution: Europe, Asia, w North America
Habitat: Open woodland, scrub, towns
Diet: Invertebrates (esp. beetles), fruit, seeds, carrion, scraps, occ. small vertebrates
TitBit: One for sorrow, two for joy; three for a girl, four for a boy; five for silver, six for gold; seven for a secret, never to be told; eight for a wish, nine for a kiss; ten for a bird that's best to miss. When this rhyme (and other variants) originated Magpies were a lot less common than today!  
Identification Tips:
  Images from IBC or search flickr
  Videos from IBC
  Sound from xeno-canto
Crossley ID photos

Population and Distribution

Population Trend: BirdTrends   
Regional Trends: Scotland   Wales   England   English Regions
Distribution: Atlas Mapstore    BBS Maps
British Population Size:
    Summer: 550 thousand Territories in 2009
    First Record: Recorded in Medieval times [Fossil evidence from Devensian (last) glaciation, 10-120,000 yr ago]
    Latest Survey: Musgrove, A. et al. (2013) British Birds 106:64-100
    Conservation Status: GREEN
   Previous Assessments: 2002-2007 GREEN     1996-2001 GREEN  
   Races of Concern: pica GREEN
Habitat Occupancy (in the Breeding Season):
    Most frequent in: Towns
    Also common in: Villages
    And found in: Scrub, Pasture Farmland, Deciduous Wood
Relative Frequency in Each Habitat:
European Population Size:
    Summer: 6.5 to 14 million pairs   (Trend in Numbers)
Population Assesment from Birds in Europe
Distribution in Europe mapped by the EBCC Atlas
Listed on the Appendices/Schedules of: WCA(III), WBD(II*)
Survey Results: Results from BirdTrack
Results from Garden BirdWatch

Breeding and Survival

Egg Size: 34 x 24 mm Egg Weight: 9.9 g (of which 6 % is shell)
Number of Nest Records: 216
Clutch Size: 5 - 6 eggs 5.37 ▒ 1.27 (2 - 9) N = 1723
Incubation: 20 days 20.05 ▒ 1.79 (17 - 23.5) N = 1723   by the: Female
Fledging: 26 - 31days 28.03 ▒ 3.70 (21 - 34) N = 2789 as: Altricial, naked
British Trust for Ornithology (2005) Nest Record Scheme data
First Clutches Laid: 22 Apr (8 Apr - 4 May)
Number of Broods: 1
See trends in Breeding Productivity
Number Ringed: Annual Totals
Adult Survival: 0.690    (M:0.750 ; F:0.600 )      
Juvenile Survival: 0.400 (in First-Year)  
Age at First Breeding: 2 years Typical Lifespan: 5 years
Maximum Recorded Age: 21 years 8 months 23 days (set in 1947)
Read a summary of Ringing Recoveries


Ring Size: E
Wing Length Adult: 186.2 ▒ 8.0 Range 173 - 198 mm, N =503
Juvenile: 183.6 ▒ 8.1 170 - 197 mm, N =615
Male: 193.1 ▒ 5.1 186 - 200 mm, N =42
Female: 183.5 ▒ 7.5 172 - 196 mm, N =158
Weight Adult: 212.9 ▒ 26.41 Range 171.0 - 254.0 g , N =384
Juvenile: 203.4 ▒ 26.83 165.0 - 247.0 g , N =436
Male: 236.2 ▒ 20.33 205.0 - 264.0 g , N =34
Female: 203.5 ▒ 23.43 167.0 - 241.0 g , N =122
British Trust for Ornithology (2005) Ringing Scheme data

Other Names

Black-billed Magpie
Previously Pica hudsonia
Gaelic: Pioghaid Welsh: Pioden
Danish: Husskade Dutch: Ekster
Finnish: Harakka French: Pie bavarde
German: Elster Hungarian: Szarka
Icelandic: Skjˇr Irish: Snag Breac
Italian: Gazza Norwegian: SkjŠre
Polish: Sroka zwyczajna Portuguese: Pega-rabuda
Spanish: Urraca Swedish: Skata
Local Names: Chatterpie, Meg, Pianet

For More Information...

Books and Monographs:
   Birkhead, T. 1991 The magpies Poyser, London [598.96 BIR]
   Birkhead, T.R. 1989 Studies of West Palearctic birds: Magpie British Birds 82:583-599
See Also:
Find scientific papers on Google Scholar or Scirus by clicking the icon
Wikipedia entry
HBW account (subscription required)
BirdLife species page
Recent sightings and information from BirdGuides
All About Birds (from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology)