Magpies refer to birds that are part of the family Corvidae. These crows are notable for their lengthy tails and their often clamorous sounds. Behavior-wise, magpies tend to be extremely outgoing and fearless birds. They generally manage well in living alongside people. Magpies are seen inhabiting areas all around the planet.
All About Magpies
Magpies are often considered to be some of the brightest birds around, along with other corvids. Mature magpies typically grow to roughly 20 inches long, which also takes their tails into consideration. Their tails are memorable in that the rest of their bodies aren't usually even twice as long as they are. Magpie plumage is mostly shiny black in color, although it also features pale elements on their breasts and wings. Magpies are often pretty sneaky birds when it comes to food. It isn't unusual for them to snatch precious sustenance away from fellow birds.
Practical Nest Construction
Magpie nests are conspicuously massive, with unmistakeable dome-like outlines. The dome shape is meant to keep wee youngsters safe against the threats of predation. Some of the biggest magpie predators are domestic cats, owls, raccoons, coyotes, weasels, ravens and hawks, just to start. Magpies tend to nest in large groups -- a means of protecting their offspring and eggs through the strength of numbers.
Common Living Environments
Magpies throughout history often resided in airy and open forests. By living in these environments, these birds developed an adaptation for being in these types of settings -- areas without too many trees. This adaptation helped magpies swiftly adjust to life in areas that are established by people, whether agricultural sites or suburbs chock-full of residences, schools and grocery stores. Magpies are extremely diverse in terms of habitat. While many of them live in suburbs, many of them also live in thickets and on the outskirts of forests.
Helpful Elongated Tails
The elongated tails of magpies also function as beneficial adaptations. They help steer magpies into their desired directions while in the midst of flying, a la rudders. This enables them to be more nimble when they fly, even though flying isn't their strongest suit. When magpies fly through rather cramped environments, their tails often come in handy.
Magpies luckily possess sizable, sturdy feet that are full of scales. They often employ these feet in times of eating, as they're capable of tightly seizing food. They have tough limbs in general, and as a result are efficient at jumping.
- Magpie Alert; Darryl Jones
- Denver Zoological Gardens: Black-billed Magpie
- The Encyclopedia of Birds - Volume 1; Facts on File
- Animal Planet: Magpie
- Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife: Magpies
- University of Michigan Animal Diversity Web: Pica Hudsonia
- Meet the Magpie; Joyce Robertson
- Birds of the World; Jason A. Mobley
- Tom Brakefield/Stockbyte/Getty Images