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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.
..... Click the link for more information. , subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Passeriformes, family Corvidae.
(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).