Family Crows and Jays (Corvidae)


Asir Magpie (Pica asirensis)


French: Pie d’Arabie German: Asirelster Spanish: Urraca árabe
Other common names: Arabian Magpie

Pica pica asirensis


, 1936,

Asir Mountains, south-western Arabia


Often treated as conspecific with P. pica, but differs in its blackish vs strong bluish gloss on wings and vs strong blue-green gloss on tail (3); reduced white on wing-coverts (1); browner-tinged body plumage (ns[1]); smaller and buffier belly patch (1); considerably larger bill (mean of 3 females 47.7 mm, whereas no female of any race of P. pica >42; at least 1); shorter tail (allow 1); and probably distinctive vocalization (sole recording matched only once in 290 recordings of P. pica, suggesting that present species is derived from P. p. bactriana) (potentially 3)#R. Monotypic.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.

Asir Massif, in SW Saudi Arabia.

Descriptive notes

46 cm; 200 g. Unmistakable within its range; distinctive black-and-white corvid with long, graduated tail. Head to breast and upperparts are black with, at most, slight sheen... read more


Calls very different from those of P. pica. Three types of call described: a full, loud... read more


Restricted to juniper (Juniperus procera) forest and well-vegetated wadis on S-facing... read more

Food and feeding

Omnivorous and probably opportunistic, but few details. Recorded food items “insects”, millipedes, caterpillars, juniper... read more


Egg-laying in early Feb, with nests with young observed between early Mar and mid Jun. Nest typical of genus, a somewhat oval, domed mass... read more



Status and conservation

ENDANGERED. Restricted-range species: confined to the South-west Arabian mountains EBA. Research indicates that perhaps fewer than 500 individuals survive, with a minimum of... read more

Recommended citation

Madge, S. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Asir Magpie (Pica asirensis). 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 23 May 2019).