Magpie - Pica pica


    Magpies seem to be jacks of all trades - scavengers, predators and pest-destroyers; their challenging, almost arrogant attitude has won them few friends. With its noisy chattering, black-and-white plumage and long tail, there is nothing else quite like the magpie in the UK. When seen close-up its black plumage takes on an altogether more colourful hue with a purplish-blue iridescent sheen to the wing feathers and a green gloss to the tail. Non-breeding birds will gather together in flocks.

    Identification difficulty

    Seen in a range of habitats from lowland farmland to upland moors.

    When to see it

    All year round

    Life History

    The Magpie is one of the few non-mammal species known to be able to recognize itself in a mirror test. They are known to attack the nests of other birds and eat their fledglings. They build a tree nest from twigs, creating a domed shape.

    UK Status

    Common across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, but more localised in Scotland, absent from the Highlands.

    VC55 Status

    Common as a breeding bird in Leicestershire and Rutland.

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    Leicestershire & Rutland Map

    MAP KEY:

    Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
    Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

    UK Map