Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Magpie, any bird of the Corvine genus Pica, with nine species, from the Palaearctic region, Arctic America, and California. The bill is entire, with cutting edges, and has at its base bristles directed forward; the tail is very long and graduated. P. rustica, the Common Magpie, with nearly the range of the genus, is a common, but very beauti ful, British bird about 16 inches long, with black plumage, glossed with brilliant metallic reflections; the scapulars and under surface are white, as are the primaries, except for their black tips. These birds are mischievous and predatory, doing great damage to the poultry yard, and to the eggs and young of feathered game, so that farmers and keepers unite to thin their numbers. They feed also on mice, frogs, molluscs, and worms. The large dome-shaped nest is lined with soft grass, and surrounded with stout thorns to keep away intruders. The eggs are pale bluish-white, with brown spots, and the number varies from six to eight. The magpie readily adapts itself to life in a cage, and soon learns to articulate words; but, whether tame or wild, it is a terrible thief, and will carry off and hide any bright glittering object that falls in its way. Magpies are generally considered birds of ill omen, and figure largely in European folk-lore.