Black-billed Magpie (Pica pica)
Black-billed Magpie (Pica pica)

The Black-billed Magpie (Pica pica) is a large black and white bird (20 inches). It has a long tail and dark bill. The bill, head, breast and underparts are black, Black-billed Magpie (Pica pica)with lustrous green iridescence on the wings and tail. The belly and shoulders are white, as well as the primaries that show as white wing patches in flight. These are members of the crow family (Corvidae).

The voice is a rapid, nasal mag? mag? mag? or yak yak yak.

Magpies inhabit open woodlands, savannas or brush-covered country near streams. The nest is built with twigs and is large, bulky and domelike. It usually has two entrances. The female lays 6-9 eggs that are greenish, brown freckled and blotched with grey. Magpies are found in Alaska, western Canada south into California and east to the Great Plains. Also it is common in Europe.

Magpies usually nest as a single pair but sometimes they will congregate in loose colonies; When not breeding they are very social, especially when feeding.

A special thanks to Georgia John for the photo above. Check out her site called Cascade Backyard Birds. Just click on her picture and it will take you to her site.

top photo: courtesy Patuxent Wildlife Research Center/Peter Osenton
bottom photo: Georgia John, South Prairie, WA, e-mail: cascadebirdwatch@aol.com
(photos not to be used without permission)