(C) Mark Robinson (shared under a CC BY-NC 2.0 license)

Also known as: Eurasian magpie, common magpie

Scientific Name: Pica pica 

Family: Corvidae

Appearance: Magpies are black, with white at the shoulders and belly. In sunlight, their black feathers have an iridescent blue and green shimmer. The tail is distinctively long. 

Body length: 44-46 cm

Weight: 200-250 g

Natural history: Magpies are common in most of the UK but largely absent in the highlands and islands of Scotland. Their large, domed twig nests are conspicuous in high branches and thornbushes. Like other crows, magpies are omnivores, eating anything from berries to young birds. When food is abundant, they create stockpiles in holes in the ground across their territories. They are particularly intelligent, and are one of the few animals able to recognise themselves in a mirror.

In the early twentieth century, persecution by gamekeepers cause magpie numbers to plummet, but since then they have recovered well. They are beneficial on farmland because they eat insect and rodent pests.