Azure-winged magpie

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Azure-winged magpie
2011 Blauelster in Shanghai.jpg
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Corvidae
Genus: Cyanopica
Species: C. cyanus
Binomial name
Cyanopica cyanus
Pallas, 1776

Cyanopica cyana

The azure-winged magpie (Cyanopica cyanus) is a bird in the crow family. It is 31–35 cm long and similar in overall shape to the Eurasian magpie (Pica pica) but is more slender with proportionately smaller legs and bill. It belongs to the genus Cyanopica.

It has a glossy black top to the head and a white throat. The underparts and the back are a light grey-fawn in colour with the wings and the feathers of the long (16–20 cm) tail an azure blue. It inhabits various types of coniferous (mainly pine) and broadleaf forest, including parks and gardens in the eastern populations.

Distribution and habitat

It occurs over a large region of eastern Asia in most of China, Korea, Japan, and north into Mongolia and southern Siberia. It was formerly thought to be conspecific with the Iberian magpie, but recent genetic analysis has shown them to be distinct at species level.[2][3]

Behaviour and ecology

Azure-winged magpie in Tokyo
Eggs, Collection Museum Wiesbaden

Often azure-winged magpies find food as a family group or several groups making flocks of up to 70 birds. The largest groups congregate after the breeding season and throughout the winter months. Their diet consists mainly of acorns (oak seeds) and pine nuts, extensively supplemented by invertebrates and their larvae, soft fruits and berries, and also human-provided scraps in parks and towns.

This species usually nests in loose, open colonies with a single nest in each tree. There are usually 6–8 eggs that are incubated for 15 days.

The voice is a quick fired and metallic sounding kwink-kwink-kwink usually preceded by a single krarrah.


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Cyanopica cyanus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ Fok KW, Wade CM, Parkin DT (2002). "Inferring the phylogeny of disjunct populations of the azure-winged magpie Cyanopica cyanus from mitochondrial control region sequences". Proc. Roy. Soc. Lond. B. 269 (1501): 1671–1678. doi:10.1098/rspb.2002.2057. PMC 1691084Freely accessible. 
  3. ^ Kyukov et al., Synchronic east–west divergence in azure-winged magpies (Cyanopica cyanus) and magpies (Pica pica), Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research 42(4): 342-351 (2004)
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