magpie

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magpie,

common name for certain birds of the family Corvidae (crows and jays). The black-billed magpie, Pica pica, of W North America has iridescent black plumage, white wing patches and abdomen, and a long wedge-shaped tail. It is altogether about 20 in. (50 cm) long. Magpies build large, domed nests in trees. Nest-building is part of courtship. The female alone incubates the eggs. Magpies destroy other birds' eggs and young, and kill sickly, wounded, or newborn sheep and cows by pecking. They are scavengers, but they also eat harmful insects as well as fruits, berries, and leaves. Their reputation for collecting small, bright objects may be undeserved. Noisy, chattering birds, in captivity they can be taught to imitate some words. The yellow-billed magpie is found in the valleys of California. The European magpie is closely related to the American; other species are found in Asia and Africa. The magpie-lark belongs to a different family, Grallinidae. Magpies are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Passeriformes, family Corvidae.

Magpie

 

(Pica pica), a bird of the family Corvidae of the order Passeriformes. The magpie is 45–48 cm long and attains a weight of 250 g. The plumage is white and black, the latter with a strong green or dark blue gloss. The magpie is widely distributed in the Palearctic and northwestern Nearctic. In the USSR it is absent only in desert and tundra regions and in Yakutia and Magadan Oblast. The domed nest is placed in a tree or bush. A clutch contains four to six eggs; the incubation period is 17 days. The magpie wanders widely in winter. The diet consists of insects, small vertebrates, seeds, and carrion. A beneficial species, the magpie consumes injurious insects; on occasion, however, it robs the nests of small birds. Several long-tailed corvids of South Asia are also called magpies: for example, the green magpie (Cissa chinensis), the yellow-billed blue magpie (Urocissa flavirostris), and the azure-winged magpie (Cyanopica cyana).

magpie

1. any of various passerine birds of the genus Pica, esp P. pica, having a black-and-white plumage, long tail, and a chattering call: family Corvidae (crows, etc.)
2. any of various similar birds of the Australian family Cracticidae
3. any of various other similar or related birds
4. a variety of domestic fancy pigeon typically having black-and-white markings
5. 
a. the outmost ring but one on a target
b. a shot that hits this ring
References in classic literature ?
They soon become tame, and are very amusing from their cunning odd manners, which were described to me as being similar to those of the common magpie.
Not least of all, Sloppy, who undertook to conduct the visitors back by the best way to the Three Magpies, and whom the hammer-headed young man much despised.
I brought the last here - and you gathered them, as a magpie gathers silver spoons, for the mere love of stealing
In effect, we presently heard him uttering suppressed groans of the most dismal nature, as this magpie proceeding racked him in every joint; but while Peggotty's eyes were full of compassion for him, she said his generous impulse would do him good, and it was better not to check it.
Some of the birds hurried off at once: one old Magpie began wrapping itself up very carefully, remarking, `I really must be getting home; the night-air doesn't suit my throat
I think I should feel QUITE well if he only felt my pulse," said Duchess, backing away from the magpie, who sidled up with something in his beak.
A few spare locks of black hair mixed with white, like the wing of a magpie, escaped from the colonel's cap, while handsome brown curls adorned the brow of the statesman.
The king, however, who sought distraction, while traveling as fast as possible--for he was anxious to be in Paris by the twenty-third--stopped from time to time to fly the magpie, a pastime for which the taste had been formerly inspired in him by De Luynes, and for which he had always preserved a great predilection.
but just as he was beginning to build up the house that he had been making the foundations for, through many a year--you jade of a magpie, jackdaw, and poll-parrot, what do you mean
At this the host smiled slyly, as though saying to himself the rustic saw, "Teach a magpie to suck eggs.
There was then a very long pause, which threatened to be final, when, mercifully, a bird about the size of a magpie, but of a metallic blue colour, appeared on the section of the terrace that could be seen from where they sat.
Fanny chatted like a magpie, and Maud fidgeted, till Tom proposed to put her under the big dish-cover, which produced such an explosion, that the young lady was borne screaming away, by the much-enduring Katy.