Family Crows and Jays (Corvidae)

Least Concern

Eurasian Magpie (Pica pica)


French: Pie bavarde German: Elster Spanish: Urraca común
Other common names: Common Magpie

Corvus pica


, 1758,

Uppsala, Sweden


Relationships confused and poorly understood; various studies and phylogenetic analyses have reached widely differing and sometimes contradictory conclusions regarding species and subspecies limits, some advocating numerous splits, other studies#R suggesting that all taxa in this genus be treated as part of a single species; clearly, much more research needed, including wider genetic sampling of taxa#R. Present species hitherto treated as conspecific with P. mauritanica; and may be conspecific with New World P. hudsonia and P. nutalli (see both of those species). Race camtschatica (much white in wing, powerful green gloss) of NE Siberia is also distinctive, while bottanensis of Tibetan region differs strongly from neighbouring forms, but said to intergrade with anderssoni in N of its range. Many intergrading populations exist, complicating taxonomic arrangements (e.g. anderssoni is possibly an intermediate series of populations): galliae (France) and germanica (Germany) included in nominate race; kot (E Ukraine), laubmanni (Kelat, in Pakistan) and hemileucoptera (C Siberia) in bactriana; japonica (Japan), amurensis (near Khabarovsk, in Ussuriland) and jankowskii (near Vladivostok) in anderssoni; and hainana (Hainan) and alashanica (Ala Shan, in C China) in serica. Race serica often misspelt “sericea”. Nine subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. p. fennorum Lönnberg, 1927 – N Scandinavia, Finland and NE Baltic region E to W Siberia.
  • P. p. pica (Linnaeus, 1758) – from British Is and S Scandinavia E to E Europe, S to Mediterranean, including most islands.
  • P. p. melanotos A. E. Brehm, 1857 – Iberian Peninsula.
  • P. p. bactriana Bonaparte, 1850 – Siberia E to L Baikal, S to Caucasus, Iraq, Iran, C Asia and Pakistan.
  • P. p. leucoptera Gould, 1862 – S Transbaikalia (Russia), Mongolia and NE China (Inner Mongolia and NW Heilongjiang).
  • P. p. camtschatica Stejneger, 1884 – N Sea of Okhotsk, Kamchatka and Anadyrland (in Russian Far East).
  • P. p. anderssoni Lönnberg, 1923 – SE Russia (Ussuriland), extreme NE China and Korea.
  • P. p. bottanensis Delessert, 1840 – WC China (Qinghai and W Sichuan S to S & E Xizang) and C Bhutan.
  • P. p. serica Gould, 1845 – E & S China, Taiwan, Hainan, N Myanmar, N Laos and N Vietnam.
  • Introduced (race serica) on Kyushu (Japan).

    Descriptive notes

    45–50 cm; 200–270 g (various races), male 185–247 g, female 161–240 g (nominate), male 214–268 g, female 208–232 g (leucoptera);... read more


    Typical call a raucous, explosive rapid chatter, “chak-chak-chak-chak-chak-chak-chak”;... read more


    Inhabits a tremendous variety of open country, preferably with at least scattered trees. Avoids... read more

    Food and feeding

    Omnivorous, but chiefly a carnivorous scavenger. Diet varies according to local habitats, basically of invertebrates, especially beetles (... read more


    Season commences with nestbuilding as early as Dec in Britain, mid Apr being peak time for first egg-laying; dates similar elsewhere in... read more


    Essentially resident; few ringing recoveries exceed 30 km. Those in N Scandinavia move S following... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Widespread and common in much of range; locally abundant. In most European countries has apparently increased over recent decades,... read more

    Recommended citation

    Madge, S., Christie, D.A. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Eurasian Magpie (Pica pica). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 28 February 2020).