MAGPIE (originally pie, the pied or varie gated bird, a bird of the genus Pica, closely re lated to the jays. The genus is distinguished by the extremely long wedge-shaped tail, the middle feathers of which equal the entire length of the head and body, while the outer feathers are less than half as long. The no torious magpie of Europe (P. rustica) is repre sented in North America by the variety hud sonia, which is rather larger but otherwise similar. The color is a lustrous black with a varied and changing iridescence and sharply contrasting white under parts and patches on the shoulders and wings, the latter being con spicuous as the bird flies. The yellow-billed magpie (P. nuttalli) of California is precisely similar except that the bill and a naked area at its base are yellow instead of black. Other species inhabit Asia and Africa. In America the common magpie is confined to the west, its range reaching from Alaska to Arizona and from the plains to the Cascade Mountains, being especially common in the Rocky Mountains. The magpie is a handsome bird of saucy, viva cious habits and is chiefly noted for its thieving habits and general rascality. It is always en gaged in mischief, either in stealing brightly colored or glittering objects from the habita tions of man or in robbing the nests of other birds, but because of its pert, merry manner is usually forgiven for the former class of offenses. The caged birds seen in the East give
but a faint idea of the beauty and activity of these birds in the wild state. Like the jays the magpies are omnivorous, but are less strictly arboreal than they. The nest, which is built in a tree or bush, is very ingeniously and sub stantially constructed. It is a large domed structure protected outwardly by a thick, brist ling layer of thorns and twigs, through which a narrow passage opening on one side leads to a deep cup plastered with mud and lined with fibres. Six to nine greenish drab eggs, much spotted and dashed with various shades of brown, are laid. The American magpie is occa sionally taken young and made a pet, but it has not the reputation for talking and amusing, albeit thievish, manners, which has made the European bird a favorite from ancient times. Descriptions of its many interesting habits will be found in the books of Cones, Ridgway, Mer riam, Cooper, Keyser and other writers upon the ornithology of the western United States.