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Magpies are passerine birds of the crow family, Corvidae.

In Europe, "magpie" is often used by English speakers as a synonym for the European Magpie, as there are no other magpies in Europe outside Iberia. That bird was referred to as a "pie" until the late 16th century when the feminine name "mag" was added to the beginning.[1]

Magpies are believed to be one of the most intelligent of all animals: the European Magpie is one of the few animal species known to be able to recognize itself in a mirror test.[2]

Systematics and species

According to analysis,[3] magpies do not form the monophyletic group they are traditionally believed to be—a long tail has certainly elongated (or shortened) independently in multiple lineages of corvid birds. Among the traditional magpies, there appear to be two distinct lineages: one consists of Holarctic species with black/white coloration and is probably closely related to crows and Eurasian jays. The other contains several species from South to East Asia with vivid coloration which is predominantly green or blue. The Azure-winged Magpie is a species with a most peculiar distribution and unclear relationships. It may be the single survivor of a long extinct group of corvid genera.[citation needed]

Other research[4] has cast doubt on the taxonomy of the Pica magpies, since it appears that P. hudsonia and P. nuttalli may not be different species, whereas the Korean race of P. pica is genetically very distinct from the other Eurasian (as well as the North American) forms. Either the North American, Korean, and remaining Eurasian forms are accepted as three or four separate species, or there exists only a single species, Pica pica.

Holarctic (black-and-white) magpies

File:Thimindu 2010 02 20 Sinharaja Sri Lanka Blue Magpie 1.jpg
File:Cissa hypoleucor concolor qtl1.jpg

Oriental (blue/green) magpies

Azure-winged Magpie

Other "magpies"

  • The Black Magpie, Platysmurus leucopterus, despite its name, is neither a magpie nor, as was long believed, a jay, but a treepie. Treepies are a distinct group of corvids externally similar to magpies.
  • The Australian Magpie, Cracticus tibicen, is conspicuously piebald, with black and white plumage reminiscent of a European Magpie. It is a member of the family Artamidae, and not a corvid.

References

Notes
  1. ^ Funk & Wagnalls Wildlife Encyclopedia, Volume 11, 1974, p. 1339.
  2. ^ Prior H.; et al. (2008). De Waal, Frans, ed. "Mirror-Induced Behavior in the Magpie (Pica pica): Evidence of Self-Recognition" (PDF). PLoS Biology. Public Library of Science. 6 (8): e202. PMC 2517622Freely accessible. PMID 18715117. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0060202. Retrieved 2008-08-21. 
  3. ^ Ericson et al. (2005)
  4. ^ Lee et al., 2003
Bibliography

External links

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Paw 1 This article is part of Project Aves, a All Birds project that aims to write comprehensive articles on each bird, including made-up species.
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