Bird Families

Red-billed azure magpie Urocissa erythrorhyncha


At home, this bird is called the long-tailed mountain lady, or more simply, the Taiwanese magpie. Thick-billed azure magpie (lat. Urocissa caerulea), a member of the corvid family, is endemic to Taiwan and lives in mountainous areas at an altitude of 300 to 1200 meters.

In size, the Taiwanese magpie does not exceed its European relative, but the magpie from Europe cannot boast of a luxurious blue tail about half a meter long. The average wing length of the thick-billed azure magpie is 18-20 centimeters, and the body is just over sixty.

Males and females of the thick-billed azure magpie outwardly practically do not differ from each other. Each of them is painted in dark blue, turning into purple tones. The black neck and chest, red beak, white markings on the wings and tail and yellow rims around the eyes are the hallmarks of the Taiwanese magpie.

Thick-billed azure magpies are very sociable, they are not afraid of people, and their tracks can be seen in the immediate vicinity of the houses of people living in the mountains. They unite in groups of six or more individuals and hover carelessly among the mountain vegetation, often lining up in a straight line.

As true representatives of the corvid family, the thick-billed azure magpies have a hoarse voice and make loud and high-pitched sounds that sound like "kyak-kyak-kyak". These birds are almost omnivorous: their menu includes snakes, rodents, insects, plants, fruits, seeds, as well as animal remains. Wild figs and figs are a favorite treat for Taiwanese magpies. They do not throw out the prey that has not been eaten, but hide it on the ground, in fallen leaves or dry branches, in order to later return for it.

Thick-billed azure magpies are monogamous. While the female incubates eggs, the male obtains food and equips the nest. The Taiwanese magpies build their nests, similar to bowls woven from twigs, on the tallest branches of trees or bushes, and the mating season usually falls in March and April.

In each nest, the female lays from three to eight eggs of olive green color with dark spots and incubates them for 17-19 days. Thick-billed azure magpies bravely defend their nests and do not calm down until the unexpected guest gets away.

In 2007, the thick-billed azure magpies took part in the competition for the title of the national bird of Taiwan and took first place, ahead of another endemic of the island - the Mikado pheasant.

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The thick-billed azure magpie (lat.Urocissa caerulea) belongs to the Crow family (Corvidae) from the order Passeriformes.

This very beautiful bird was voted as a national symbol of Taiwan in 2007 by an Internet vote, where it is called the Taiwanese magpie or, very respectfully, "the mountain lady with a long tail."

It is believed to bring happiness, family well-being and wealth. Since 1989, it has been officially protected by the state under the Taiwan Cultural Heritage Act.

This species is endemic and is found only in Taiwan. It lives mainly in the rainforests located on the plains.

Small populations are found in mountainous areas at altitudes no more than 1300 m above sea level.


Taiwanese magpies are not at all afraid of people. They roam freely near a human dwelling or fly to freshly plowed fields to feast on fresh worms.

These social birds form groups of 3 to 9 individuals and fly in a straight line one after the other. Like other related species, they make sounds similar to shrill clucking.

The thick-billed azure magpie is omnivorous and can feed on carrion if necessary. Her diet is dominated by fruits and plant seeds. She willingly ruins other people's nests, eats small chicks and bird eggs.

In addition to insects and invertebrates, they eat small rodents and reptiles, including small snakes. Magpies often fly to landfills and feed on food waste.

They cover the remnants of food with leaves or hide between branches. Hungry, they return to their hiding places.


The mating season begins in March and ends in April. Magpies form monogamous pairs. The male helps the female with the arrangement of the nest and carries food when she incubates the eggs.

Magpie nests are built on tall trees among the branches. The nest is made from rods in the form of a large bowl. Inside it is lined with moss and animal hair.

A typical clutch consists of 3-8 light green eggs covered with brown spots. Only the female incubates them, feeding exclusively on the offerings of the spouse. After 17-19 days of incubation, chicks are born.

For the first time, juveniles leave the nest at the age of 21-24 days. At this time, the chicks are already able to fly short distances. Some couples make a second clutch after the first brood, but usually the marriage rarely lasts more than 3 months in a row.

Chicks from the previous brood provide active assistance to parents. They help feed their younger brothers and protect the nest from ruin.

The Taiwanese magpie is able to selflessly defend its home and attack the intruder until he leaves. In self-defense, she can attack a person.

In the city of Taichung, located in the center of western Taiwan, the family of the Chinese azure (Cissa chinensis) and the Taiwanese magpie was discovered in 2007. 3 hybrid chicks were found in their nest.

The find caused concern among environmental organizations, as the number of the Taiwanese magpie was falling, while the Chinese, on the contrary, was constantly growing.

The Taiwan Endemic Species Institute is currently working on population control of the Chinese azure magpie. Biologists catch representatives of this species and take them to other regions.


The body length of adults reaches 63-68 cm in length. The tail length is 34-42 cm. The wingspan is 40-48 cm, weight is 254-260 g. The plumage of males and females is the same.

The head, neck and chest are covered with black feathers. The eyes are yellow, the legs and beak are red. The rest of the plumage is blue. The tips of the wing and tail feathers are white.

Top tail feathers with gray tips. The central tail feathers are the longest.

The chicks are covered with gray down, they have a short tail and blue eyes.

The life span of the Taiwanese magpie in natural conditions is about 20 years.