Black-billed Magpie

Black-billed Magpie

Pica pica

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Biography

Streaming, iridescent tails and flashing white wing patches identify black-billed magpies in flight. On the ground, these striking members of the crow family forage for insects, fruits, mice and carrion, and will sometimes steal the eggs and young of smaller birds. Magpies usually nest in loose colonies. Each stick nest can measure 2-4 feet high and is topped with a protective dome of thorny twigs. Five to nine eggs are laid in the inner nest cup that is built of mud and lined with fine grasses, roots and animal hair. Magpies are one of the most common sights on the prairies. Because their short rounded wings and long tails make rapid flight impossible, they spend much time foraging on the ground. Magpies are social birds and prefer to travel in small flocks, keeping up a steady chatter of raucous calls. Their noisy chattering sometimes imitates the human voice.

Our Animal's Story

ZooAmerica is home to two magpies. Both hatched in May 2012 and arrived later that year from a wildlife rehabilitator in Utah.

silhouette of mountain range