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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Azure-winged Magpie - #500 on Life List

Azure-winged Magpie, Cyanopica cyana
Image Credit: Gordon Langsbury

I was going over my bird list from my summer trip to China. It turns out that I surpassed 500 species for my life list. Species #500 was an Azure-winged Magpie.

The Azure-winged Magpie was observed on July 29, 2010, in the Li Shizhen Gardens in Hubei, China. My daughter Maria was ahead of me on the trail and stirred the bird. She spotted it and immeadiately called my attention to it. I got a good look at it as it flew past and disappered into a grove of evergreen trees. On the way out of the gardens about 15 minutes later, I spotted it again, perched in a tree where I got an really nice view.

I referenced Wikipedia to get a little background on the magpie.

The Azure-winged Magpie is a bird in the crow family. It is 31–35 cm long and similar in overall shape to the European Magpie (Pica pica) but is more slender with proportionately smaller legs and bill. It belongs to the monotypical 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 are an azure blue. It inhabits various types of coniferous (mainly pine) and broadleaf forest, including parks and gardens in the eastern populations.

It occurs in two population groups separated by a huge geographical region between. One population lives in Western Europe, specifically the southwestern part of the Iberian Peninsula, in Spain and Portugal. The other population occurs over a much larger region of eastern Asia in most of China, Korea, Japan, and north into Mongolia. Recent genetic analysis has shown that the two populations are distinct at species level [1], under which the Iberian Azure-winged Magpie would take the name Cyanopica cooki, though this change has yet to be formally incorporated in the European bird list.

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 between 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.


Drew said...

Pretty awesome bird for #500! You are lucky to have a good excuse to get to Asia.


Shah said...

Wow... That was an amazing shot of the Azure-winged Magpie.

Keep it coming.

Nomiנעמי said...

Could I have seen these azure-winged magpies in Beijing, in the garden of the Heavenly Temple?