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Azure-winged Magpie - BirdForum Opus

Photo © by Neil Fifer
Hong Kong, China, 19 November 2004
Cyanopica cyanus

Cyanopica cyana


Length 31-35 cm (13-13¾ in), of which the tail 16-20 cm; weight 76-118 g

  • Glossy black cap
  • White throat
  • Brownish-grey back and rump
  • Light buffish underparts
  • Azure blue wings and tail
  • White tip to tail

Sexes similar. Juveniles have a brownish-black hood.


Subspecies swinhoei
Photo © by Owen Krout
Panjin, Liaoning, China, 8 November 2017

From central Asia to eastern China and Japan.


Closely related to the Iberian Magpie, which was formerly included in this species, but differs in having an all-blue tail (no white tip) and slightly darker body plumage.


Photo by scottishdude
Shanghai, China, 19 June 2008

Eight subspecies are accepted here,[1] though C. c. pallescens is considered a synonym of C. c. cyanus by some authors:[2]

  • C. c. cyanus: East-central Asia
  • C. c. pallescens: Middle and lower Amur River region
  • C. c. koreensis: Korea
  • C. c. stegmanni: Manchuria
  • C. c. swinhoei: Eastern China (Liaoning to Fujian and Sichuan)
  • C. c. interposita: Northern China (Shaanxi)
  • C. c. kansuensis: Western China (Gansu, Qinghai and north-western Sichuan)
  • C. c. japonica: Japan (Hondo and Kyushu)


Open mixed forest, scrub, orchards, parks and gardens.


Gregarious, forming noisy groups out of the breeding season. Largely resident, but northernmost populations more dispersive; higher altitude birds in Japan are also known to move to lower altitudes in winter.[2]


The diet includes a wide variety of nuts, invertebrates and larvae, soft fruits and berries. When seeking invertebrates on the ground, they like to jump forward both feet together.


They nest in loose, open colonies with a single nest in each tree, usually a holm oak. Incubation takes around 15 days for the 6–8 eggs.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Del Hoyo, J, A Elliott, and D Christie, eds. 2009. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 14: Bush-shrikes to Old World Sparrows. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8496553507
  3. Avibase
  4. Wikipedia contributors. (2019, March 9). Azure-winged magpie. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 18:40, June 3, 2019, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Azure-winged_magpie&oldid=886962334
  5. Peterson, RT, G Mountfort and PAD Hollom. 1993. Collins Field Guide – Birds of Britain and Europe, 5th Revised edition. London: HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 978-0002199001
  6. Grant, P.J., K. Mullarney, L. Svensson, D. Zetterstrom (1999) Collins Bird Guide: The Most Complete Field Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe. Harpercollins Pub Ltd ISBN 0 00 219728 6
  7. Boesman, P. (2016). Notes on the vocalizations of Iberian Azure-winged Magpie (Cyanopica cooki) and Asian Azure-winged Magpie (Cyanopica cyanus). HBW Alive Ornithological Note 204. In: Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from http://www.hbw.com/node/932151 on 9 June 2017).
  8. Fok, K.W., Wade, C.M. & Parkin, D.T. (2002) Inferring the phylogeny of disjunct populations of the azure-winged magpie Cyanopica cyanus from mitochondrial control region sequences. Proc. Roy. Soc. London (Ser. B Biol. Sci.) 269: 1671–1679.
  9. Kryukov, A., Iwasa, M.A., Kakizawa, R., Suzuki, H., Pinsker, W. & Haring, E. (2004) Synchronic east–west divergence in azure-winged magpies (Cyanopica cyanus) and magpies (Pica pica). J. Zool. Syst. Evol. Res. 42(4): 342–351.
  10. Madge, S. (2017). Asian Azure-winged Magpie (Cyanopica cyanus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from http://www.hbw.com/node/60742 on 9 June 2017).
  11. Madge, S. & Burn, H. (1994) Crows and Jays: A Guide to the Crows, Jays and Magpies of the World. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.

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