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 ?
The jackdaws were eating pie- crust, and the magpie was drinking gravy out of a patty-pan.
We may safely attribute the greater wildness of our large birds to this cause; for in uninhabited islands large birds are not more fearful than small; and the magpie, so wary in England, is tame in Norway, as is the hooded crow in Egypt.
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.
They cantered on for some time in silence, till Benassis said laughingly to his companion, "Come now, Captain Bluteau, you have drawn me out and made me chatter like a magpie, and you have not said a syllable about your own history, which must be an interesting one.
If you just go to the Magpie and Stump, and ask at the bar for Mr.
Her friends repeated the pleasing phrase enthusiastically, and for several minutes she stood, like a jackdaw in the fable, enjoying her borrowed plumes, while the rest chattered like a party of magpies.
Nor does this inability arise from want of organs: for we observe that magpies and parrots can utter words like ourselves, and are yet unable to speak as we do, that is, so as to show that they understand what they say; in place of which men born deaf and dumb, and thus not less, but rather more than the brutes, destitute of the organs which others use in speaking, are in the habit of spontaneously inventing certain signs by which they discover their thoughts to those who, being usually in their company, have leisure to learn their language.
On the land were large flights of magpies and American robins; whole fleets of ducks and geese navigated the river, or flew off in long streaming files at the approach of the canoes; while the frequent establishments of the painstaking and quiet-loving beaver showed that the solitude of these waters was rarely disturbed, even by the all-pervading savage.
When you can look round a roomful of people and think that each one is a mere child in intellect compared with yourself you feel no more shy of them than you would of a select company of magpies or orang-outangs.
Pie" in this case refers to magpies, the prey for the falcons.
All the pilgrims and the manager were then congregated on the awning-deck about the pilot-house, chattering at each other like a flock of excited magpies, and there was a scandalized murmur at my heartless promptitude.
It was full of cracks from top to bottom; and out of the openings magpies and rooks were flying; and the great bull-dogs, each of which looked as if he could swallow a man, jumped up, but they did not bark, for that was forbidden.