The Taiwan magpie, also referred to as the Taiwan blue magpie or Formosan blue magpie (Urocissa caerulea), is a bird species that boasts a longer tail than its European counterpart. Despite its elongated tail, it has a similar size to the European Magpie, measuring between 64 and 65 centimetres in length. Its wingspan ranges from 18 to 21 centimetres while the tail alone is 40 centimetres long. The Taiwan magpie sports striking features such as a red beak and legs, yellow iridescent eyes, and a black head, neck, and breast.
The Taiwan Blue Magpie boasts a striking appearance with rich, dark blue to purple feathers and white patterns on its wings and tail. Interestingly, it’s quite tricky to differentiate between male and female birds as their physical features appear very similar. These magnificent creatures typically dwell in broadleaf forests found at an altitude of 300 to 1,200 meters above sea level.
Taiwan Blue Magpies are commonly recognized as scavengers and omnivores that love to consume a variety of foods such as plants, fruits, seeds, rodents, snakes, and tiny insects. Among their favorite fruits are papayas and wild figs. Interestingly, they have been observed to save food by putting leftovers on the ground and covering them with leaves for later retrieval. They also store food in branches or leaves.
Blue magpies, a type of Formosan bird, are known to have monogamous relationships. They prefer to build their nests in weeds and woodlands, especially on higher branches between March and April. The bowl-shaped nest is constructed from twigs and weeds. The male birds assist in the nesting process, including feeding and construction, while the females incubate the eggs. Each nest typically contains 3-8 olive green eggs with dark brown markings. The hatching success rate is about 78.3%, and it takes around 17-19 days for the chicks to hatch. On average, each nest will have 3-7 chicks. Blue magpies are fiercely protective of their nest and will attack intruders until they flee.
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species now categorizes this species as being of Least Concern due to its wide distribution. However, the Formosan Blue Magpie is considered a rare and significant species because of its unique endemic status. Check out the video to listen to the bird’s calls.