Crows vs Magpies All Differences Explained

Crows and magpies belong to the intelligent and social family of birds commonly referred to as the Crow family. Although they have many similarities, it’s easy to tell them apart because of each exhibit’s significant features and characteristics.

The Difference Between Crows and Magpies

1. Different Length of Tail

The tail length is one of the ways to tell crows and magpies apart. Crows have shorter tails that match their body length, from 16 to 21 inches in size. Magpies have longer tails which is one of their distinctive features. A magpie measures from 17 to 23 inches in size, making it pretty much the same size as a crow. Even if both birds are perched, you will tell one from the other with their tail alone.


2. Different Colors of Feathers

The color of their feathers is another way to tell crows and magpies apart. Crows are known for their solid black color that matches their black beaks and legs. Magpies, however, have a beautiful combination of white, tinged blue, and black feathers. The black feathers of the magpies are prominent at the back of their body, and it seems to highlight the white feathers in their breasts and sides. Feathers of crows are also lackluster, which is in contrast to the shiny plume of a magpie.


3. Different Wingspan Size

The difference between a crow and a magpie is also easily recognizable when both birds are in flight. Crows have significantly larger wingspans compared to magpies. The wingspan of a crow ranges from 34 to 39 inches, while a magpie only ranges from 22 to 24 inches. When magpies are in flight, you will be able to see the striking display of their white feathers and rounded wings. Crows, however, have more extensive wings with only very few curves.

4. Different Body Mass

Crows and magpies also differ significantly when it comes to their body mass. A crow’s weight can range from 11 up to 22 ounces, while a magpie’s weight can only range from 5 up to 7 ounces.

5. Different Coo Sound

Another major difference between the crow and the magpie is the sound of their coos. Magpies are songbirds adored for the fine and high-pitched sounds that they make. They can sing melodious songs, usually in duets or in groups. Crows, however, coos in a combination of hoarse and grating sounds that are typically accompanied by their clunks.

6. Different Flight Speed

Another notable difference between crows and magpies is their flight speed. The normal flight speed ranges from 10 to 15 miles per hour and can increase to 30 miles per hour when attacking their prey. Crows, however, have a flight speed that is twice faster than magpies. Their flight ranges from 30 to 60 miles per hour. When attacking their prey, they can increase their flight speed to up to 70 miles per hour.

7. Different Reproduction Habit

Crows and magpies also differ in the way they reproduce. Since crows are closer to magpies, they share pretty much the same characteristics, including sexual maturity. Both birds reach sexual maturity and can start breeding at around 2 years of age. While magpies breed after maturity, crows would normally wait until they reach 4 years of age. It is because crows stay longer with their parents to help them care for the young.

8. Different Size of Eggs

Crows and magpies may have similar mating characteristics, but it’s practically easy to tell their eggs apart. While crows and magpies can lay eggs that range from 4 up to 8 in a clutch, crow eggs are significantly larger than magpie eggs. Crow eggs range from 1.2 inches to 1.6 inches in size, while magpie eggs measure to less than an inch up to 1.3 inches in size. The eggs of both these birds are identical in terms of color, but it’s the size that will help you identify one from the other.

9. Different Nest Structure

Magpies build their nest differently compared to crows. It is easy to identify a magpie nest from those of crows because of the intricacy of structure. Crows only build simple nests using twigs, branches, or even scrap of clothes, especially if they live near the urban area. Magpies, however, do not just build nests but almost like a fortress made of twigs complete with walls and canopies. It is the safest structure to protect their young from any intruders or predators snatching the helpless baby magpies.

10. Difference in Superstitions

Crows and magpies are associated with two strikingly different superstitious beliefs. Although the beliefs vary from culture to culture, most cultures associate crows with death and are believed to be harbingers of bad omen. Superstitious people fear the crows because of their black plumage that is being associated with witches and evil. Magpies, however, are considered to be harbingers of good fortune in many cultures. In Chinese culture, a magpie symbolizes happiness, and killing one will bring you bad luck.

Questions and Answers

Can crows mate with magpies?

In general, cross mating between the Corvidae family of birds is extremely rare, and hybrids between crows and magpies are, so far, non-existent. Interactions between these birds are never about coupling, but it’s all about fighting most of the time.

Why do crows and magpies hate each other?

Crows and magpies are both omnivores which means that they share the same diet. They eat worms, fruits, nuts, as well as other birds. When both birds share the same territory, they compete in the food chain since they hunt in the same area. Both are intelligent birds, but most of the time, these magpies outsmart the crows. Crows are stronger and faster. Once they get provoked or outsmarted, they would not hesitate to attack. It is the reason why we often see crows and magpies fighting against each other.

Why are crows and magpies smart?

The brain-to-body ratio of a magpie is equivalent to that of intelligent apes. Considering that magpies are small birds, they have bigger brains and why they are highly intelligent birds. Crows and magpies belong to the same family of birds, making it normal for them to share the same traits. The brain of a crow is similar in size to that of a human thumb. It is considered a huge brain considering that crows are only around 20 inches in overall size.

Are crows smarter than magpies?

Crows and magpies are so smart that they share the intelligence of a seven (7) year old human child. They can not only solve problems but can also reason and mimic human speech. Arguably though, magpies are smarter than crows. Magpies are considered to be one of the most intelligent animals because they can recognize themselves in mirrors. This contrasts crows who are known for their rampage in striking windows in homes and establishments.

Can I have crows or magpies as pets?

Crows and magpies are not domesticated birds and are considered wild animals. In most countries, keeping these birds as pets is illegal. Most magpies are aggressive, which makes them unsafe, especially around children. Crows are also known as scavengers, they like dirty places, and they often hunt from garbage bins which makes them unsanitary to have as pets.

How to identify the gender of a crow or magpie?

One can tell the gender of a magpie by checking the feathers at the back of its neck. The nape of the neck of a male magpie is composed of entirely white feathers, while a female magpie has grey feathers at the back of its neck. The gender of crows, however, is easier to identify than those of magpies. Although crows do not have a sex organ, you don’t have to see them tell whether they are male or female, for you only need to hear them coo. Male crows have a deeper coo sound, contrasting with the female crows with a softer, higher pitch coo.

Why do crows and magpies gather around during winter?

These birds roost during the harsh winter not only so that they can keep each other warm but also to protect themselves from predators. Food is scarce during winter, which makes their predators more aggressive and more likely to attack. These smart birds understand that there’s safety in numbers, and they will be easy prey if they are alone. They also take this opportunity to communicate and share information.

Are crows and magpies afraid of shiny objects?

In contrast to common belief, crows and magpies are afraid of shiny objects such as CDs and aluminum plates. Magpies, especially, have a reputation for liking shiny objects, including women’s jewelry. This notion may have originated from Norse mythology which included a story of a magpie stealing the ring of Odin. For a very long time, Magpies have been made a culprit for any stolen jewelry. Although crows and magpies are both curious birds, they hate shiny objects. Placing CDs and aluminum plates on a farm can help rid these birds.