Monday, 6 August 2018

An armchair full of Magpies

I am writing this sat in my armchair, which is where I retire to whenever IOC revisions are on the cards. This week I learned that one Magpie is to become five Magpies, which is really excellent news for any listing fan out there. I’m not obviously, I am just recounting this in case any of you reading are. Because a Magpie was a Magpie, it is quite hard to work out which of these splits I’ve actually seen. The only one I can remember with any clarity is the North African version (mauritanica) which I caught up with in Morocco back in 2014. It is fair to say that it is quite different, to the extent that I am surprised that it was not revised earlier.


Here is a normal Eurasian Magpie (pica) for comparison. Distinctly lacking in blue eye skin.




Another split is Oriental Magpie (sericea) - I wasn't sure about this but luckily I'm a traditionalist and keep notebooks. I looked back at my write-ups and lists and discovered I had Magpie listed in Hong Kong. Excellent. No photo though, it was just a Magpie remember.

The remaining two species resulting from the split are in Saudi Arabia (asirensis), so I'm unlikely to see that any time soon, and Western China (bottanensis), ditto.There are also two other Pica species from America, and I've seen them both - Yellow-billed Magpie and Black-billed Magpie. I'd seen the latter in Washington State, but only recently got the former in California on a family holiday last year. Which means I've seen five out of seven, which is not bad going. T

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