Eurasian Magpie

Eurasian Magpie

Common magpie, Eurasian magpie, Common magpie

2 languages
Pica pica
Population size
46-228 mln
Life Span
3-21.8 yrs
182-272 g
44-46 cm
52-62 cm

The Eurasian magpie or common magpie (Pica pica ) is a resident breeding bird throughout the northern part of the Eurasian continent. It is one of several birds in the crow family (corvids) designated magpies, and belongs to the Holarctic radiation of "monochrome" magpies. In Europe, "magpie" is used by English speakers as a synonym for the Eurasian magpie: the only other magpie in Europe is the Iberian magpie (Cyanopica cooki ), which is limited to the Iberian Peninsula.

Show More

The Eurasian magpie is one of the most intelligent birds, and it is believed to be one of the most intelligent of all non-human animals. The expansion of its nidopallium is approximately the same in its relative size as the brain of chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans and humans. It is the only bird known to pass the mirror test, along with very few other non-avian species.

Show Less


















Not a migrant


starts with


Lucky Animals


The Eurasian magpie is a resident breeding bird throughout the northern part of the Eurasian continent. It is glossy black in color with a metallic green and violet sheen; the belly and scapulars (shoulder feathers) are pure white. The graduated tail is black, glossed with green and reddish-purple. The plumage of the sexes is similar but females are slightly smaller. The young resemble the adults but are at first without much of the gloss on the sooty plumage. The young have the malar region pink and somewhat clear eyes. Their tail is much shorter than the adults.



The range of Eurasian magpies extends across temperate Eurasia from Spain and Ireland in the west to the Kamchatka Peninsula. These birds are normally sedentary and spend winters close to their nesting territories but populations living near the northern limit of their range in Sweden, Finland, and Russia can move south in harsh weather. Eurasian magpies prefer to live in open countryside with scattered trees and usually avoid treeless areas and dense forests. They sometimes breed in suburban areas such as parks and gardens and can often be found close to the center of cities.

Eurasian Magpie habitat map
Eurasian Magpie habitat map
Eurasian Magpie

Habits and Lifestyle

Eurasian magpies live in mated pairs and generally occupy the same territory in successive years. Outside of the breeding season they often gather in noisy groups flying about and even performing various displays. These birds are active during the day spending most of the time searching for food on the ground. They may also steal food from other birds or hide it in the small hole in the ground, for later use. Eurasian magpies have a well-known call. It is a choking chatter "chac-chac" or a repetitive "chac-chac-chac-chac". Young birds also emit the previous call, although they also emit an acute call similar to a "Uik Uik", which may resemble the barking of a small dog. Both adults and young can produce a kind of hiss barely noticeable from afar.

Seasonal behavior
Bird's call

Diet and Nutrition

Eurasian magpies are omnivorous birds. They eat young birds and eggs, small mammals, insects, scraps and carrion, acorns, grain, and other vegetable substances.

Mating Habits

21-22 days
5-6 eggs

Eurasian magpies are monogamous, and the pairs often remain together from one breeding season to the next. The breeding season takes place in spring and during this time the birds perform courtship display in order to attract a mate or to strengthen a pair bond. In the courtship display, males rapidly raise and depress their head feathers, uplift, open and close their tails like fans, and call in soft tones quite distinct from their usual chatter. They also perform short buoyant flights and chases. Magpies prefer tall trees for their bulky nest, firmly attaching them to a central fork in the upper branches. A framework of the sticks is cemented with earth and clay, and a lining of the same is covered with fine roots. Above is a stout though loosely built dome of prickly branches with a single well-concealed entrance. Where trees are scarce, though even in the well-wooded country, nests are at times built in bushes and hedgerows. In Europe, clutches are typically laid in April and usually contain 5 or 6 eggs. They are incubated for 21-22 days by the female, who is fed on the nest by the male. The chicks are altricial, hatching nearly naked with closed eyes. They are brooded by the female for the first 5-10 days and fed by both parents. The nestlings open their eyes 7 to 8 days after hatching. For several days before they are ready to leave the nest, the chicks clamber around the nearby branches. They fledge at around 27 days but the parents continue to feed their chicks for several weeks more. They also protect the chicks from predators, as their ability to fly is poor, making them vulnerable.


Population threats

Eurasian magpies don't face any serious threats at present.

Population number

According to Wikipedia resource, the total population size of the Eurasian magpie is between 46 and 228 million individuals. According to the IUCN Red List, in Europe, the breeding population of the species consists of 7,500,000-19,000,000 breeding pairs, equating to 22,500,000-57,000,000 individuals. National population estimates include around 10,000-100,000 breeding pairs in China; around 100-100,000 introduced breeding pairs in Taiwan; around 10,000-100,000 breeding pairs in Korea; around 100-10,000 breeding pairs (possibly introduced) in Japan and around 10,000-100,000 breeding pairs in Russia. Currently, the Eurasian magpie is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are stable.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • In Europe, the name "magpie" is typically used by English speakers as a synonym for the Eurasian magpie; the only other magpie that occurs in Europe is the Iberian magpie, which is limited to the Iberian Peninsula.
  • The Eurasian magpie is believed not only to be among the most intelligent of birds but among the most intelligent of all animals. Along with the Western jackdaw, the Eurasian magpie's nidopallium (the region of the avian brain) is approximately the same relative size as those in chimpanzees and humans and significantly larger than the gibbons.
  • European magpies are able to recognize themselves in the mirror which makes them one of only a few species to possess this capability. They also are able to use tools, hide and store food across seasons, and predict the behavior of conspecifics.
  • Eurasian magpies are able to cut their food in correctly sized proportions for the size of their young.
  • In captivity, magpies have been observed counting up to get food, imitating human voices, and regularly using tools to clean their own cages. In the wild, they organize themselves into gangs and use complex strategies hunting other birds and when confronted by predators.


1. Eurasian Magpie on Wikipedia -
2. Eurasian Magpie on The IUCN Red List site -
3. Xeno-canto bird call -

More Fascinating Animals to Learn About