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Common Magpie

UK Magpie Habitat, Food & Identification


20th August 2013



Length: 46 cm.

One of the most distinctive and easily recognised birds in Europe, due to its very long graduated tail and black and white colouration. The purple-blue gloss on body feathers and green gloss on the tail are only apparent when seen at close quarters. The youngsters are duller than the adults and has a much shorter tail.
Their flight is weaker than that of other crows and appears unbalanced due to the long tail. On the ground they hop or walk sideways. They are usually seen in small flocks, except at roosts and in spring when it gathers in greater numbers.


The usual call is a rapid ‘chat-chat-chat-chat’.

Magpie nests

Breeding starts from early April. The nest is a bulky cup of sticks, mud, plant fibre and hair. An open dome of twigs, leaving an opening at the edge of the cup, is usually present. Both male and female build the nest, which is situated in bushes or trees or rarely on buildings.
They lay five to eight eggs, rarely up to ten. They are a bluish greenish or buff colour, heavily spotted with olive brown and grey. The female alone incubates for seventeen or eighteen days. Both parents tend the young.

Magpie habitat

The Magpie loves areas with scattered trees and scrub, including cultivated land and suburban areas.

Natural food

The mainly eat insects, but also small mammals, birds (and their eggs and young), worms molluscs and vegetable matter, such as nuts.

Where to Feed
Feeders – Not suitable
Table – Open topped
Ground  – Scatter food in the open