Magpie bird<<<< Back to birds
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Aves
- Order: Passeriformes
- Family: Corvidae
- Genus: Pica
- Conservation status: Least concern
- Habitat: woodland and grasslands
- Food: Fruit, Nuts, Seeds, Insects
- Wing span: 50cm - 60cm (20in - 24in)
- Speed: 30km/h (20mph)
- Lifespan: 8 - 16 years
- Clutch size: 3 - 4 Eggs
As part of the corvids family, the magpie is a close relative of the crow and raven. And, like its relatives, it is said that they steal. I mean, being attracted by the brightness of certain objects (eg metal tableware or even jewelry), the magpie catches in its claws a spoon or a ring and takes off with it to a higher place. With a harsh and strident voice, the name of this bird is given-nickname- to a person that speaks a lot and loudly. Although initially they lived only in forests, logging and town development determined them to move closer to human settlemetns, now more common in villages and even cities. Elders from the country say that the magpies warn drought when they are picking corn kernels and announce storms when they gather in flocks. There is another legend about the magpie saying that this bird refused to get on Noah’s Ark, preferring to remain in its nest during the flood.
Instead, magpies terrify bird breeders, they go through farmyards, stealing eggs, but especially hen, turkey or duck chicks. They resort to this type of attack instinctively, for old times sake when they were hunting in primeval forests, but now they are satisfied with eating seeds and bodies of dead animals. They are prey for other birds, like the hawk and falcon.
A freak of the bird world is the magpie-lark (Grallina cyanoleuca), which-even if named after both birds- is no lark nor magpie. It lives in Australia, in a great diversity of habitats (even in cities), choosing though to live by water, where it procures food from. The magpie-lark has long legs (like most birds that live near water) and a white and black plumage. Magpie-lark pairs often sing duets, waiting-in order- for their turn. The nest is build of mud and grass and usually placed on a branch, above water.
Also on the kangaroo continent, there lives the Australian magpie, native to Australia and New Guinea, but also introduced in New Zealand. It is larger than the magpie-lark (40cm in length, compared to only 30) and has a voice that made it famous. Australian magpies feed on insects, but also with other small animals on the ground and nest in groups of up to six birds, led by a dominant male. Each group has its own territory, defended from other magpies who dare to violate it.
A geographical highly spread bird and extremely weird is the blue winged magpie (dark gray on the rest of the body). Called by scientists Cyanopica cyan, the blue-winged magpie lives especially in China and surrounding arreas in the Far East, but can also be found in Spain or Portugal. The only explanation ornithologists where able to find for this birds existence in such far away places is that the European specimens were brought by the sailors returning from China centuries ago. Although it is not entirely ruled out that these magpies have been kept in captivity as pet birds, they are more likely to have nested on Spanish and Portuguese ships, where they found favorable conditions and plentiful food. And so, after a long journey, they arrived on the Iberian Peninsula.
Magpies are sociable birds, living in small groups, but quite noisy (especially in the first weeks of the year) – these collective sounds are the signal for the mating start. Throughout the spring, magpie pairs share and then establish their territories, for the fighting to stop and to handle nesting, eggs and caring for the offspring. Both partners take part in building a roomy nest: the male looks for and brings the materials (twigs, stalks of plants and grass) and the female arranges them so that the shelter is stable, secure and comfortable. In April-May, the female lays five to seven eggs, which she then broods for 18 days. After hatching, the chicks don’t leave the nest for 22-27 days, during which they are directly fed by their parents.
Then, for 8 weeks, the chicks will continue to stay in the company of the adult magpies, and only in the third month of life will leave the nest by flying on their own. Even so, without being dependent on their parents, new generations of young magpies continue to live with their families in the fall and winter of their first year of life.
Did you know that:
The magpie is among the few creatures who recognizesitself in the mirror!
In Romanian folklore, the magpie, a close relative of crows, is a feminine symbol par excellence.
Magpies are not afraid of people. They can be found near human households.
Magpie is a geographical highly spread bird.