Belongs to: crows

Magpie Pica pica

Best time to see: all year

Key facts

Familiar (and often disliked) black-and-white member of the crow family

Habitat: woodland edges, hedgerow, tall scrub, gardens and, increasingly, towns

Widespread and common resident, increasing steadily, probably because of free food available in towns


Bold black-and-white plumage with long rounded green-black tail; 42–50 cm

Usually solitary or in small groups, scavenging 

Feeds mainly on insects, grain and carrion, also fruit, eggs and nestlings of small birds, sometimes frogs and snails


Nest is a domed structure of twigs lined with mud in a bush or tree, designed to protect its young from carrion crows

One brood April to May; 4–7 pale blue eggs, blotched olive

© Robin Chittenden