Animals, Birds

Scientific name: Eurasian magpie

With its noisy chattering, black-and-white plumage and long tail, there is nothing else quite like the magpie in the UK. When seen close-up its black plumage takes on an altogether more colourful hue with a purplish-blue iridescent sheen to the wing feathers, and a green gloss to the tail. Magpies seem to be jacks of all trades – scavengers, predators and pest-destroyers, their challenging, almost arrogant attitude has won them few friends. Non-breeding birds will gather together in flocks.

England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland
Specific name:
Eurasian magpie
Moors, fields, parks, gardens, villages and towns. Mostly they favour areas with both trees and wide open spaces, and can often be found breeding around farmland.
44-46 cm (18'')
600,000 territories

Where you can see them

Found across England, Wales and N Ireland, but more localised in Scotland, absent from the Highlands. Seen in a range of habitats from lowland farmland to upland moors.

Conservation Status

Magpies, like all other species, are protected under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 and the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985. This makes it illegal to intentionally or, in Scotland, recklessly take, injure or kill a magpie, or to take, damage or destroy an active nest or its contents. In Northern Ireland, it is illegal to disturb birds at an active nest.


A ubiquitous species, found in gardens, all types of grassland, arable land, hedgerows and verges, woodland, marshes, heathland and high moorland.