The British Trust for Ornithology
MAGPIE
Pica pica
Magpie © Tommy Holden
Conservation listings

Unlisted/Green
Biodiversity Steering Group: Unlisted

Long-term trend
UK: Rapid increase, now stable
Status summary
Magpies increased steadily until the late 1980s, when abundance stabilised. This period of population stability is apparent in both CBC and BBS indices (Gregory & Marchant 1996). The trend has been associated with increases in breeding performance and earlier laying, as has been observed for other corvids, and probably reflects the benefits of a generalist strategy under changing environmental conditions. The decline in nest failure rates has been substantial. During the egg stage (21 days, comprising 17 days incubation + 4 days laying) failure rates have fallen from 45% to 9%, and during the chick stage (25 days) failure rates fell from 36% to 5%. Overall, from egg laying to fledging, the proportion of nests failing has fallen from 65% to 13%, a decrease which is likely to be the result of reductions in gamekeeping activity (Marchant et al. 1990). A trend towards earlier laying has also been identified and may be partially explained by recent climate change (Crick & Sparks 1999). The high level of aaptability displayed by magpies has allowed them to colonise both urban and suburban habitats.
 
 
Table of population changes for Magpie
Source Period
(yrs)
Years Plots
(n)
Change
(%)
Lower
limit
Upper
limit
Alert Comment
CBC all habitats 31 1968-1999 157 110 76 158    
  25 1974-1999 169 76 57 103    
  10 1989-1999 162 1 -7 9    
  5 1994-1999 163 1 -4 6    
CBC farmland 31 1968-1999 72 71 42 98    
  25 1974-1999 74 58 31 85    
  10 1989-1999 77 1 -10 11    
  5 1994-1999 77 7 -2 14    
CBC woodland 31 1968-1999 57 185 66 371    
  25 1974-1999 64 81 29 134    
  10 1989-1999 68 -1 -16 17    
  5 1994-1999 70 -4 -13 5    
BBS UK 6 1994-2000 1388 9 5 15    
BBS England 6 1994-2000 1169 0 -5 5    
BBS Scotland 6 1994-2000 33 41 -3 107   Small sample
BBS Wales 6 1994-2000 126 24 5 45    
BBS N.Ireland 6 1994-2000 52 57 21 104    
The Breeding Bird Survey is jointly funded by BTO, JNCC and RSPB
 
 
Table of productivity information for Magpie
Variable Period
(yrs)
Years Mean
annual
sample
Trend Predicted
in first year
Predicted
in last year
Change Comment
Clutch size 31 1968-1999 52 Curvilinear 5.54 eggs 4.81 eggs -0.73 eggs  
Brood size 31 1968-1999 87 Curvilinear 3.17 chicks 3.68 chicks 0.51 chicks  
Daily failure rate (eggs) 31 1968-1999 58 Linear decline 0.0281 nests/day 0.0043 nests/day -0.0238 nests/day  
Daily failure rate (chicks) 31 1968-1999 57 Linear decline 0.0178 nests/day 0.002 nests/day -0.0158 nests/day  
Laying date 31 1968-1999 39 Curvilinear day 110 day 87 -23 days  
 
Insufficient data on CES
available for this species




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This report should be cited as:
Baillie, S.R., Crick, H.Q.P., Balmer, D.E., Beaven, L.P., Downie, I.S., Freeman, S.N., Leech, D.I., Marchant, J.H.,
Noble, D.G., Raven, M.J., Simpkin, A.P., Thewlis, R.M. and Wernham, C.V.
(2002) Breeding Birds in the Wider
Countryside: their conservation status 2001. BTO Research Report No. 278. BTO, Thetford. (http://www.bto.org/birdtrends)

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