Family Crows and Jays (Corvidae)

Least Concern

Black-billed Magpie (Pica hudsonia)


French: Pie d’Amérique German: Hudsonelster Spanish: Urraca de Hudson

Corvus hudsonia


, 1823,

Cumberland House, Saskatchewan, Canada


Genetic differences from P. pica rather weak#R and morphological differences “remarkably slight”#R, so very possibly merits reunification with P. pica along with P. nutalli (which see). Provisionally maintained here as separate species, however, for possessing a distinctly slower chatter-call#R (2); a whine-call shared only with P. nutalli (assuming absence from race camtschatica, for which there are no recordings) (3)#R; slightly smaller size (allow 1) but proportionately longer tail (allow 1); supposedly also greener tones in glossy area on wings (ns); and blue vs brown irides in first-year birds (ns). Monotypic.


Coastal S Alaska (E from Alaska Peninsula and Shumagin Is) and SW Canada (SW Yukon, extreme NW & E British Columbia, N Alberta, C Saskatchewan, C Manitoba, extreme SW Ontario) S in W USA to NE & EC California (to Inyo County), SC Nevada, Utah, extreme NE Arizona (Apache County), N New Mexico, W (casually also NE) Oklahoma, C Kansas, and Nebraska (except SE).

Descriptive notes

45–60 cm; 135–210 g, male 176–216 g and female 141–173 g (Idaho). A medium-sized, black-and-white corvid with long iriscent tail and a black bill. Has... read more


At least 15 distinct calls identified. Only well-studied call the alarm call, or "chatter... read more


Arid shrub-steppe, favouring landscapes with clumps of shrubs and trees along rivers and streams,... read more

Food and feeding

Omnivorous. Eats carrion, also invertebrates, including ground beetles (Coleoptera), grasshoppers (Orthoptera), worms (Oligochaeta), also... read more


Nest-building from late Jan/Feb (later in higher and more N parts of range; relatively earlier in suburban areas than in wild lands), and... read more


Primarily resident. Some extensive movements outside breeding season, breeders returning each year... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Locally common. Populations currently stable or slightly declining. Range appears limited by climatic factors, especially temperature and humidity;... read more

Recommended citation

Marzluff, J. & de Juana, E. (2020). Black-billed Magpie (Pica hudsonia). 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 20 February 2020).