Family Crows and Jays (Corvidae)

Least Concern

Asian Azure-winged Magpie (Cyanopica cyanus)


French: Pie-bleue à calotte noire German: Azurelster Spanish: Rabilargo asiático
Other common names: Azure-winged Magpie

Corvus cyanus


, 1776,

Dauria = Transbaikalia (southern Siberia), Russia


Until recently considered conspecific with C. cooki (which see); despite remarkable disjunction, overall differences are only of degree. Geographical variation slight; morphometric and genetic analyses#R indicate that races stegmanni, koreensis, kansuensis, interposita and swinhoei should be included in nominate, and plumage similarities among first four support this; swinhoei, however, retained here as colour of upperparts and underparts distinct, being extremely close to those of C. cooki. Other proposed races are tristis (Chita, in Transbaikalia), pallescens (R Amur, in extreme SE Russia) and jeholica (C Jehol, in NE China), all included in nominate. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. c. cyanus (Pallas, 1776) – N Mongolia (E from Uliastay) E across Transbaikalia and S Yakutia to SE Russia (Amurland and Ussuriland), S to NE China (Inner Mongolia, Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning) and Korean Peninsula, also C & E China (NE Qinghai, W Gansu and NW Sichuan E to Hebei and Shandong).
  • C. c. japonica Parrot, 1905 – C Japan (N & C Honshu; formerly also Shikoku and Kyushu).
  • C. c. swinhoei E. J. O. Hartert, 1903 – EC & E China (N & C Sichuan E to Jiangxi and Zhejiang).
  • Descriptive notes

    33–38 cm; male 80–118 g, female 76–112 g; wingspan 38–41 cm. Unmistakable within its range, where combination of black hood, greyish mantle and blue... read more


    Some apparent poorly understood geographical variation in certain calls. Typical call a shivery... read more


    Lowland thickets, especially mixed willow (Salix) and Prunus thickets with large... read more

    Food and feeding

    Omnivorous. Takes wide variety of food items, especially insects and their larvae, and quite a number of fruits and nuts. In Ussuriland,... read more


    Egg-laying May–Jun, peak in second half of May in SE Russia (Ussuriland) and Japan. Believed to have monogamous pair-bond, as pair-... read more


    Most populations basically resident. In Ussuriland disperses in winter, turning up in open country... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Widespread and locally common. Throughout its wide range can be relatively inconspicuous, its colonial habits also making it seem... read more

    Recommended citation

    Madge, S. (2020). Asian Azure-winged Magpie (Cyanopica cyanus). 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 7 April 2020).