Formosan Blue Magpie

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Common Name: Formosan Blue Magpie
Scientific Name: Urocissa caerulea

Size: 25-26 inches (64-65 cm)

Habitat: Asia; Taiwan. It is an endemic species living in the mountains of Taiwan at elevations of 300 to 1200m.

Status: Least Concern. Global Population: Unknown amount of mature individuals. Due to its endemism, the Taiwan Blue Magpie has been listed as a rare and valuable species (珍貴稀有保育類) and protected by Taiwan's Cultural Heritage Preservation Act (Traditional Chinese: 文化資產保存法) since 1989. There is a small population of Red-billed Blue Magpies that have been introduced to Wuling Farm in Taichung County (now part of Taichung City). In 2007, three hybrids were found in Taichung, which has caused some concern to conservationists, who fear the Taiwan Blue Magpie could be threatened in a similar way to the Taiwan Hwamei. However, the Endemic Species Research Institute of Taiwan has been working to control Red-Billed Magpie populations by capturing individual birds and relocating their nests.

Diet: Snakes, rodents, small insects, plants, fruits, and seeds, with wild figs and papayas being their favorites. They are known to store leftovers on the ground and cover them with leaves for future retrieval. Sometimes they store food in leaves or branches.

Breeding: The plumage of males and females look alike. Their head, neck and breast are black; eyes are yellow; bill and legs are red; the rest of the plumage on the bird is a rich dark blue to purple in color. They also have white markings on the wings and the tail.

The Blue Magpie is monogamous. Females incubate eggs while males help out with nest building and feeding. Their nests are usually found in the woods and weeds of rendezvous areas. They are woven with twigs and weeds in the shape of a bowl. Most are built on higher branches from March to April. The eggs usually number 3-8 and are olive green in color, with dark brown marks. Hatching takes 17–19 days and the success rate is 78.3%. This will yield 3-7 chicks per nest. Blue Magpies have a strong nest defense behavior, and will attack intruders mercilessly until they retreat.

Cool Facts: In the 2007 National Bird Voting Campaign held by Taiwan International Birding Association, there were over 1 million votes cast from 53 countries. The Blue Magpie defeated the Mikado Pheasant and was chosen as Taiwan's national bird, though it has yet to be formally accepted.

It is also called the Taiwan Magpie (Chinese: 臺灣藍鵲) or the "Long-tailed Mountain Lady" (Chinese: 長尾山娘)

Found in Songbird ReMix Cool 'n' Unusual Birds 3

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