Black-billed Magpie

Pica pica

Order

PASSERIFORMES

Family

Crows and Jays (Corvidae)

Code 4

BBMA

Code 6

PICHUD

ITIS

ILLUSTRATION

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PHOTOS

CONSERVATION STATUS

Least Concern

The Black-billed Magpie is part of the crow family, and inhabits much of western Canada and the United States, and southern Alaska. This species is one of the few in which mates stay together for life. They nest at the tops of evergreens and deciduous trees, and occur in a variety of open and forest habitats. They rarely migrate but, at times, the Black-billed Magpie will travel south or east during winter months. They typically form colonies and roost together during this time of year. The Black-billed Magpie is omnivorous, dining on berries, insects, carrion, eggs and rodents. Although this species has declined in prairie ecosystems, the population is estimated around 5.4 million individuals and is large and stable enough to warrant a conservation status of Least Concern.

IBIRD EXPLORER GENERAL

PHOTO SHARING AND DISCUSSION

BIRD PHOTOGRAPHY

SUMMARY

Overview

Black-billed Magpie: Large, noisy jay, mostly black, with very long tail and dark, stout bill. Wings and tail are iridescent blue and green-black. White belly and sides. Eats insects, larvae, carrion. Direct flight on shallow, steady wing beats. Often glides between perches or from perch to ground.

 

Range and Habitat

Black-billed Magpie: Resident from southern Alaska to western and central Canada south to northern California and west through the Great Plains. In winter months, it may travel as far east as Ontario and Minnesota. Its preferred habitats include open woodlands, savannas, brush-covered country, and stream sides.

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Black-billed Magpie SONGS AND CALLS

Black-billed Magpie C1

Nasal "shek" calls.

Black-billed Magpie A1

Whisper song during nest building activity.

Similar Sounding

Woodhouse's Scrub-Jay C1

Harsh "zeep" calls from birds at a feeder.


Voice Text

"mag-mag-mag", "yak-yak-yak"

INTERESTING FACTS

  • In the past, they have been considered vermin (due to their feeding on poultry eggs and orchard crops) and farmers have placed bounties on them. They are now protected in the U.S.
  • The Black-billed Magpie spends up to 40 hours building nests with domes on top.
  • Unlike most birds, they can use scent to locate food.
  • A group of magpies has many collective nouns, including a "charm", "gulp", "mischief", "tittering", and "tribe" of magpies.

SIMILAR BIRDS

RANGE MAP NORTH AMERICA

About this North America Map

This map shows how this species is distributed across North America.

FAMILY DESCRIPTION

TERMINOLOGY

CREDITS

Author

Gary Owen Dick

Artist

Michael Oberhofer

HELP ME IDENTIFY A BIRD

BACKYARD BIRDING

BIRDS AND BIRDING

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BellyX
The ventral part of the bird, or the area between the flanks on each side and the crissum and breast. Flight muscles are located between the belly and the breast.
FaceX
The front part of the head consisting of the bill, eyes, cheeks and chin.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X