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


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

UK Map