Pica pica
(Black-billed Magpie)

Order: Passeriformes
Order Description: Passerines
Family: Corvidae
Family Description: Crows and Jays

Physical Description:
17 1/2-22" (44-56 cm). IridescentClick word for definition black above with white shoulder and wing patches; white below with black throat and lower belly. Very long, iridescent black tail.

Similar Species- Yellow-billed Magpie

A nasal mag? mag? mag?

Resident from portions of Alaska and western Canada, south to eastern California, southern Nevada, southern Utah, extreme northeastern Arizona, northern New Mexico, western and northeastern Oklahoma, and western Kansas.

Found (in either arid or humid habitats) in open country (including grasslands), open situations with scattered trees, shrubby areas, riparianClick word for definition and open woodlands, and forest edges and farmlands.

Eats insects, carrionClick word for definition, mice, snakes, some eggs and young of small birds, and some grains and fruits.

Often forages on ground. Usually seen in small flocks of 6-10 birds; larger flocks may form in winter. Builds enclosed, spherical nest in tree or sometimes in shrub. Nests in scattered, loose colonies, and roosts communally after breeding season, and especially in winter (Alberta study found up to 150 birds in February and March). Abandoned magpie nests often are used by other bird species as shelter, daytime retreat, or nests. Individuals roostClick word for definition in dense thickets of deciduousClick word for definition trees or scrub, or, especially in north in winter, in dense conifers. In Idaho, a number of studies have been conducted on genetic variability, behavior, social organization, and nesting densityClick word for definition/dispersion.

Female incubatesClick word for definition 5-8 eggs (usually 6-7) for 16-18 days. Pair often remains monogamous for several years. Young reach sexual maturity in 1 yr. Alberta study indicates that male parental care is required for successful rearing of young.

Element Code: ABPAV09010
Status: Protected nongame species
Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S5
National Rank: N5

Important State References:
Stone, E.R. 1991. The sociology of North American Black-billed Magpies (Pica pica hudsonia). Ph.D. Dissertation, Idaho St. Univ., Pocatello. 71pp.

Design by Ean Harker©1999, 2000.
Written by Jason Karl, 2000.