Irish Name: Snag breac
Scientific name: Pica pica
Bird Family: Crows
Conservation status


Resident. One of Ireland's Top 20 most widespread garden birds.


A species of crow. All crows have sturdy legs and strong bills and are intelligent and social in nature. Very easy to tell apart from any other bird. Boldly marked in black and white with a very long tail. The head, chest, back and tail are black; the belly and flanks are white. Shows white outer wings which contrast strongly with black and white on the inner wings. Plumage can show a green or blue gloss depending on the light. Short, stout, black bill. Longish black legs which are used for both walking and bounding. Juvenile birds are very similar to adults but lack the long tail, which takes a while to grow. Flight is fluttering and direct. Noisy flocks, know as 'Magpie parliaments' can form.


Harsh and unmusical. Often repeated in alarm.


Takes a wide variety of food types, very opportunistic in its feeding habitats. Foods include invertebrates, fruits, seeds, small vertebrates, carrion, refuse, and scrapes. Will sometimes take the eggs and young of small birds. Feeds in a variety of situations including - pastures and cereals in farmland, parks and garden in urban situations, also visits bird tables, frequents water sides and


Nests in trees in a large conical nest. Breeds in trees and woodlands, both coniferous and deciduous, in the countryside and also in urban areas. Magpies are found throughout the country in high densities, only on parts of the west coast are they less numerous.


Wintering distribution is not substantially different from its breeding distribution.

Monitored by

Countryside Bird Survey & Garden Bird Survey.