Blog Archive: Magpies

Birdorable Azure-winged Magpie

The Mystery of the Azure-winged Magpie

December 14th, 2007 in Magpies, Did You Know...? 3 comments

The Azure-winged Magpie is a bird in the crow family and has the overall shape of a European Magpie, but it is a bit more slender and has a proportionally smaller bill and legs. The most striking feature of these beautiful birds are their black caps and azure blue feathers. In Europe these birds only live in the southwestern part of the Iberian Peninsula, which is quite a small area. What's amazing, though, is that another population of Azure-winged Magpies live more than 5,000 miles away, in eastern Asia! Their range covers China, Korea, Japan and Mongolia. The huge separation of both populations is a mystery. Perhaps their range used to be continuous from Europe to Asia and was broken up by an Ice Age, or perhaps early explorers took the birds into Spain and Portugal from the Far East? Recent genetic analysis shows that both populations are from a common ancient ancestral stock, but that they were separated before European exploration of the Far East began. We saw lots of Azure-winged Magpies on our trip to Andalusia, Spain, this year. The pictures below are from our visit to El Acebuche Visitor Center in Parque Nacional de Doñana in May 2007:

Azure-winged Magpie in Andalucia
Azure-winged Magpie in Andalucia
Azure-winged Magpie in Andalucia

Seeing these birds in Spain inspired us to make a Birdorable version of the Magpie. Meet the Birdorable Azure-winged Magpie.

Birdorable Azure-winged Magpie

Two new Birdorable Magpies

June 1st, 2007 in New Birds, Magpies No comments

In addition to the regular Black-billed Magpie / European Magpie that was already a member of the Birdorable family of cute birds, two new exotic magpies have arrived this week: the Azure-winged Magpie that lives in Portugal, Spain and eastern Asia, and the Yellow-billed Magpie that lives only in California's Central Valley. The Yellow-billed Magpie, part of the crow family, is virtually identical to the more common Black-billed Magpie. It has a yellow bill and a yellow streak below the eye. The Yellow-billed Magpie lives only in California. The Azure-winged Magpie, is a bit smaller and sleeker than the widespread European Magpie. It sports a black cap and azure-blue wings and tail. Oddly, they live in two distinctly separated areas: the Iberian Peninsula, and eastern Asia. These are the Birdorable, totally cute version of these already cutie-pie Magpies:

Two new Magpies