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common name for certain birds of the family Corvidae (crows and jays). The black-billed magpie, Pica pica or P. hudsonia, 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, P. nuttali, is found in the valleys of California. The European magpie, P. pica, is closely related to the American; other species, many of which are not predominantly black and white, are found in Asia and Africa. The Australian magpie, magpie-lark, and magpie shrike belong to a different families, Artamidae, Monarchidae, and Laniidae, respectively. 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.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(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).

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


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
a. the outmost ring but one on a target
b. a shot that hits this ring
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
By pairing the two birds - the pigeon, representing good and the magpie evil, one in the light and the other in the shadow - Ferguson's painting can be seen as a powerful symbolic portrait of humanity in which good and evil are not necessarily in opposition and may exist simultaneously within all of us.
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The murkiness of Magpie's everyday reality and the too-bright sparkle of her fantasy world--where the power of imagination can be as dangerous as a drug--combine to great effect.
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A keeper using a glove puppet imitating a parent feeds baby critically endangered Javan green magpie at the zoo in Prague, Czech Republic, Tuesday, April 17, 2018.
However life for magpie chicks is not all hunky-dory either.
Magpies were, until recently, one of the few species with a circumpolar distribution, found across the Northern Hemisphere.
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PC Ormond from the Magpie Team said: "It's at the main police station in Little Park Street.
When researchers, who were approaching foraging magpies, looked directly at the magpies, the magpies took the decisions faster regardless of whether the final decision was to return to foraging or to fly away and whether the stress or danger perceived by a magpie was low or high.