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Eurasian Magpie (Pica pica)

Updated: Aug 21, 2023

Date: May 21st, 2023

Location: Beijing, Wenyu River

The eurasian magpie, perhaps one of the most common birds in beijing is a sociable bird, often seen around residential areas. It has been beloved by people since ancient times and is seen as a symbol of good luck and fortune. In rural areas, during wedding ceremonies, it's common to decorate the houses with images of "magpies perching on branches"-an allusion very common in Chinese paintings, poems, and couplets.

It is scientifically referred to as Pica pica, belongs to the crow family (corvids) and is classified as a species of least concern. It is highly prevalent in urban areas due to its ability to adapt its diet to suit the urban environment. The Eurasian magpie's range extends across temperate Eurasia, spanning from Spain and Ireland in the west to the Kamchatka Peninsula in the east. These birds are sedentary, typically forming mated pairs that occupy the same territory in consecutive years. They exhibit monogamous behavior, with pairs often staying together from one breeding season to the next.

Eurasian magpies are known for their gregarious nature and can often be observed gathering in noisy groups, engaging in flight and various displays. They are diurnal creatures, remaining active during the day while primarily foraging for food on the ground.

The Eurasian magpie has a sleek black and white plumage, with a long tail and a black beak. The bird's black head and white belly create a striking contrast. In addition, it has vibrant blue or green iridescent feathers on its wings, which become visible when in flight or under certain lighting conditions.

Eurasian magpies have adapted remarkably well to urban environments, and there are several reasons for their success in these areas. First and foremost, urban areas provide an abundant and diverse food source for these birds. As previously mentioned, these birds adopted an urban diet. Specifically, they feed on a wide range of food and are omnivores birds. They eat young birds and eggs, small mammals, insects, scraps and carrion, acorns, grain, and other vegetable substances. Furthermore, urban environments often offer suitable nesting sites for magpies. They are known to build large, dome-shaped nests made of twigs and branches in trees, and they can utilize tall buildings, rooftops, and other structures as nesting locations in urban areas.

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