The Mystery of the Azure-winged Magpie

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.


Tough Titmouse on May 24, 2012 at 5:42 PM wrote:
Wow, I didn't know.... Ad, well WOW! ;D
Tough Titmouse on May 24, 2012 at 5:42 PM wrote:
I meant "and, well, WOW!"
Harpy Eagle on July 4, 2017 at 10:17 PM wrote:
We see lots of Azure- winged magpies here in Beijing, they're really pretty.

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