AskDefine | Define magpie

Dictionary Definition



1 long-tailed black-and-white bird that utters a chattering call
2 someone who collects things that have been discarded by others [syn: scavenger, pack rat]
3 an obnoxious and foolish and loquacious talker [syn: chatterer, babbler, prater, chatterbox, spouter]

User Contributed Dictionary



Mag, pet form of Margaret used to denote a chatterer + pie "magpie".


Extensive Definition

Magpies are passerine birds of the crow family, Corvidae. The names 'jay' and 'magpie' are to a certain extent interchangeable, although this does not accurately reflect the evolutionary relationship between these birds. For example, the Eurasian Magpie seems more closely related to the Eurasian Jay than to the Oriental Blue and Green Magpies, whereas the Blue Jay is not closely related to either.
In Europe, "magpie" is often used by English speakers as a synonym for the European magpie, as there are no other magpies in Europe outside Iberia.
Magpies are known to steal other young birds, commonly young chickens, away from their nests.
The bird was referred to as a pie until the late 16th century when the feminine name Mag was added to the beginning.

Systematics and species

According to Ericson et al. (2005), magpies do not form the monophyletic group they are traditionally believed to be; a long tail has certainly evolved (or shortened) independently in multiple lineages of corvid birds. Among the traditional magpies, there appear to be two evolutionary lineages: One consists of Holarctic species with black/white coloration and is probably closely related to crows and Eurasian jays. The other contains several species from South to East Asia with vivid coloration which is predominantly green or blue. The Azure-winged Magpie is a species with a most peculiar distribution and unclear relationships. It may be the single survivor of a long extinct group of corvid genera.
Other recent research (Lee et al., 2003) has cast doubt on the taxonomy of the Pica magpies, since it appears that P. hudsonia and P. nuttalli may not be different species, whereas the Korean race of P. pica is genetically very distinct from the other Eurasian (and even the North American) forms. Either the North American, Korean, and remaining Eurasian forms are accepted as 3 or 4 separate species, or there exists only a single species, Pica pica.
Holarctic (black-and-white) magpies
Oriental (blue/green) magpies
Azure-winged Magpie

Other magpies

The Black Magpie, Platysmurus leucopterus, despite its name, is neither a magpie nor, as was long believed, a jay, but a treepie. Treepies are a distinct group of corvids externally similar to magpies.
The Australian Magpie, Gymnorhina tibicen, is conspicuously piebald, with black and white plumage reminiscent of a European Magpie, but it is not a corvid.


Magpies eat mostly worms, slugs and small insects. They feed their young the same. Magpies can be seen scratching into the ground, looking for food, such as spiders and worms. Magpies hunt day and night. Magpies aren't exclusively carnivores or herbivores, but they are more carnivores than herbivores. Magpies learn to find food for themselves when they are very young.

Magpie in culture

Most English language cultural references to magpies are those for the European Magpie, since the word "magpie" usually refers to that species. Magpies are symbols of good luck in China and Korea, in contrast with their relatives the crows, which are portents of bad omens.


  • Anonymous (2006): The Word Origin Calendar: Sat./Sun. March, 11-12, 2006. Accord Publishing.
  • Ericson, Per G. P.; Jansén, Anna-Lee; Johansson, Ulf S. & Ekman, Jan (2005): Inter-generic relationships of the crows, jays, magpies and allied groups (Aves: Corvidae) based on nucleotide sequence data. Journal of Avian Biology 36: 222-234. PDF fulltext
  • Lee, Sang-im; Parr, Cynthia S.; Hwang, Youna; Mindell, David P. & Choe, Jae C. (2003): Phylogeny of magpies (genus Pica) inferred from mtDNA data. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution'' 29: 250-257. PDF fulltext

External links

magpie in Aragonese: Garza
magpie in Asturian: Pega
magpie in Belarusian: Сарока звычайная
magpie in Breton: Pig
magpie in Bulgarian: Сврака
magpie in Catalan: Garsa
magpie in Czech: Straka obecná
magpie in Welsh: Pioden
magpie in Danish: Husskade
magpie in German: Elster
magpie in Estonian: Harakas
magpie in Spanish: Pica pica
magpie in French: Pie bavarde
magpie in Western Frisian: Ekster
magpie in Friulian: Cheche
magpie in Galician: Pega
magpie in Korean: 까치
magpie in Ido: Pigo
magpie in Italian: Pica pica
magpie in Hebrew: עקעק זנבתן
magpie in Georgian: კაჭკაჭი
magpie in Latin: Pica
magpie in Lithuanian: Šarka
magpie in Hungarian: Szarka
magpie in Dutch: Ekster
magpie in Dutch Low Saxon: Ikster
magpie in Japanese: カササギ
magpie in Norwegian: Skjære
magpie in Norwegian Nynorsk: Skjor
magpie in Occitan (post 1500): Pica pica
magpie in Polish: Sroka
magpie in Portuguese: Pega-rabuda
magpie in Russian: Обыкновенная сорока
magpie in Slovak: Straka čiernozobá
magpie in Finnish: Harakka
magpie in Swedish: Skata
magpie in Turkish: Saksağan
magpie in Ukrainian: Сорока
magpie in Walloon: Agaesse
magpie in Vlaams: Ekster
magpie in Chinese: 喜鹊

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Audubon warbler, Canada goose, English sparrow, accumulator, adjutant bird, agreeable rattle, albatross, all sorts, argala, assemblage, assortment, auk, auklet, avocet, babbler, bald eagle, baldpate, bank swallow, barbet, barn owl, barn swallow, barnacle goose, big talker, bill collector, bittern, blab, blabber, blabberer, blabbermouth, blackbird, blackcap, blatherer, blue jay, booby, broad spectrum, bullfinch, bunting, bush wren, bushtit, butcher bird, buzzard, canary, canvasback, capercaillie, caracara, cardinal, cassowary, catbird, cattle egret, chaffinch, chat, chatterbox, chatterer, chewink, chickadee, chicken hawk, chimney swift, chipping sparrow, cliff swallow, cockatiel, cockatoo, collection agent, collector, condor, conglomeration, connoisseur, coot, cormorant, cowbird, crake, crane, creeper, crossbill, crow, cuckoo, curlew, cushat, dipper, dodo, douanier, dove, duck, dunlin, dunner, eagle, egret, eider duck, emu, erne, exciseman, falcon, farmer, finch, flamingo, flicker, flycatcher, frigate bird, fulmar, gabber, gabbler, gallimaufry, gannet, garganey, gasbag, gatherer, gibble-gabbler, goldeneye, goldfinch, goose, great talker, greylag goose, grosbeak, grouse, guillemot, guinea fowl, gull, gyrfalcon, harrier, hash, hawk, hawk owl, hermit thrush, heron, hobby, hodgepodge, honker, hoopoe, hoot owl, horned owl, hot-air artist, hotchpot, hotchpotch, house finch, house martin, hummingbird, ibis, idle chatterer, indigo bunting, jabberer, jackdaw, jay, jumble, junco, jungle fowl, kea, kestrel, killdee, killdeer, kingbird, kingfisher, kinglet, kite, kittiwake, kiwi, kookaburra, lammergeier, lapwing, lark, laughing jackass, linnet, loon, macaw, mallard, marabou, martin, mash, mavis, medley, melange, merganser, merl, mess, mew, mingle-mangle, miscellany, miser, mishmash, mix, mixed bag, mockingbird, moulin a paroles, mud hen, murre, mute swan, myna, myna bird, night-heron, nighthawk, nightingale, nightjar, nutcracker, nuthatch, odds and ends, olio, olla podrida, omnium-gatherum, oriole, ortolan, osprey, ostrich, ouzel, owl, oyster catcher, pack rat, parakeet, parrot, partridge, passenger pigeon, pasticcio, pastiche, patchwork, patterer, peafowl, peewee, pelican, penguin, petrel, phalarope, pheasant, phoebe, pigeon, plover, potpourri, prater, prattler, ptarmigan, puffin, rail, rattle, raven, razorbill, red grouse, redbird, redhead, redpoll, redshank, redstart, redwing, rhea, ring ouzel, ringdove, ringtail, robin, rook, ruddy duck, salad, salmagundi, sapsucker, sauce, scarlet tanager, scaup duck, scramble, screech owl, sea duck, sea eagle, sea gull, sea mew, sea swallow, secretary bird, sheldrake, shoebill, shoebird, shrike, siskin, snipe, snow bunting, snowbird, solan goose, song sparrow, song thrush, songbird, sparrow, sparrow hawk, spoonbill, sprig, starling, stew, stilt, stork, storm petrel, stormy petrel, swallow, swan, swan goose, swift, tanager, tax collector, teal, teal duck, tern, thrasher, thrush, tit, toucan, towhee, tragopan, tree swallow, trumpeter, turkey, turnstone, turtledove, veery, vulture, warbler, waxwing, weaver, weaverbird, what you will, whippoorwill, whistler, widgeon, wild duck, willet, windbag, windjammer, wood duck, wood owl, wood pigeon, woodcock, woodpecker, word-slinger, wren, wryneck, yellowbird, yellowhammer, yellowlegs, yellowthroat, zebra finch
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