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BTO Blueline
MAGPIE
Pica pica
Magpie © Tommy Holden
Conservation listings

Europe: no SPEC category, secure
UK: Green

Long-term trend
UK, England: rapid increase
Status summary
The high level of adaptability displayed by Magpies has allowed them to colonise many new urban and suburban localities since the 1960s. Magpies increased steadily until the late 1980s, when abundance stabilised (Gregory & Marchant 1996). The trend has been associated with improvements in breeding performance, as has been observed for other corvids, and probably reflects the benefits of a generalist strategy under changing environmental conditions. The declines in nest failure rates, during both the egg stage (21 days, comprising 17 days incubation and 4 days laying) and the chick stage (25 days), have been substantial, and are likely to be the result of reductions in gamekeeping activity (Marchant et al. 1990). A strong trend towards earlier laying has also been identified and may be partially explained by recent climate change (Crick & Sparks 1999).
 
CBC/BBS UK graph
 
Table of population changes for Magpie
Source Period
(yrs)
Years Plots
(n)
Change
(%)
Lower
limit
Upper
limit
Alert Comment
CBC/BBS UK 33 1967-2000 441 115 73 166    
  25 1975-2000 545 68 47 95    
  10 1990-2000 1046 0 -7 7    
  5 1995-2000 1616 3 -1 7    
CBC/BBS England 33 1967-2000 381 114 74 168    
  25 1975-2000 469 75 52 100    
  10 1990-2000 894 -1 -8 5    
  5 1995-2000 1370 0 -3 4    
BBS UK 8 1994-2002 1401 2 -2 7    
BBS England 8 1994-2002 1178 0 -5 5    
BBS Scotland 8 1994-2002 33 29 -10 83    
BBS Wales 8 1994-2002 131 -10 -24 7    
BBS N.Ireland 8 1994-2002 53 34 2 76    
BBS acknowledgement
 
CBC/BBS England graph
BBS UK graph
BBS England graph
BBS Scotland graph
BBS Wales graph
BBS N Ireland graph
 
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 33 1968-2001 51 Curvilinear 5.58 eggs 4.79 eggs -0.79 eggs  
Brood size 33 1968-2001 87 Curvilinear 3.11 chicks 3.4 chicks 0.29 chicks  
Daily failure rate (eggs) 33 1968-2001 58 Linear decline 0.0288 nests/day 0.0035 nests/day -0.0253 nests/day  
Daily failure rate (chicks) 33 1968-2001 56 Linear decline 0.0172 nests/day 0.0019 nests/day -0.0153 nests/day  
Laying date 33 1968-2001 39 Curvilinear day 110 day 84 -26 days  
 
Clutch size graph
Brood size graph
Egg nest failure graph
Chick nest failure graph
Laying date graph
Insufficient data on CES
available for this species
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This report should be cited as:
Crick, H.Q.P., Marchant, J.H., Noble, D.G., Baillie, S.R., Balmer, D.E., Beaven, L.P., Coombes, R.H.,
Downie, I.S., Freeman, S.N., Joys, A.C., Leech, D.I., Raven, M.J., Robinson, R.A. and Thewlis, R.M. (2004)
Breeding Birds in the Wider Countryside: their conservation status 2003.
BTO Research Report No. 353. BTO, Thetford. (http://www.bto.org/birdtrends2003)

Pages maintained by Susan Waghorn and Iain Downie: Last updated 16 February, 2009