Urocissa flavirostris (Blyth, 1846) sec. Corvids of the World

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Urocissa flavirostris (Blyth, 1846) sec. Corvids of the World

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Editorial Status

Ongoing collection of data, unrevised text, last update: 2017-01-02.

Common Name

English: Gold-Billed MagpieA, Yellow-Billed Blue MagpieA,B


Asia-Temperate China (China South-Central (Yunnan nativeA,C,D,1), Tibet (Tibet nativeA,C,D,2)), Asia-Tropical Indian Subcontinent (Assam native: presence questionableA,3, East Himalaya nativeA,C,D, Nepal (Nepal nativeA,C,4), Pakistan (Pakistan nativeA,5), West Himalaya nativeA,C,D,E,6); Indo-China (Myanmar (Myanmar nativeC,D,7), Vietnam (Vietnam nativeC,D,8))
1. N and W Yunnan, 2. SE Xizang (Tibet), 3. might be found in S assam hills adjacent to Myanmar but thas far recorded there, 4. W Nepal, 5. N Pakistan, 6. Jerdon (1863): found throughout the Himalayas, but confined to certain localities. Found in Cashmere and at Jummoo, in Kumaon, in parts of Nepal, and in Sikhim, where it is the only species from this group., 7. N and W Myanmar, 8. NW Vietnam (Tonkin)


Whole head, neck, nd breast, deep black, with a narrow transverse white occipital band; upper plumage and scapulars purplish ashy; upper tail-coverts, with some small black spots; wings and tail dull cobalt blue, with an ashy tinge; the quills black on their inner webs, and white tipped, and the tail feathers broadly tipped black and white, except the centre pair which are only tipped with white; beaneath, from breast whitish, with a strong tinge or purplish ashy. Bill yellow; legs orange yellow; irides brownish red.

Differs from U. e. occipitalis in its generally duller hue, yellow bill, and smal occipital marK, the legs, too, are shorter, and not so strong.

Length 24 inches; wing 7,5; tail 16; tarsus 1,75; bill at fron 1 3/8.E


Occurs about Darjeeling from 6000 feet to 10000 feet.E In well to heavily wooded country in mixed and in evergreen forest and also in clumps of trees in cultivated regions and mountainsides at high elevations.D 1000-3600m; generally at higher elevations than U. erythoryncha. Locally common in moist temperature broadleaved and conferous forest, usually at edges of forest and glades; enters cultivation and tea plantations, but more a forest bird than U. erythroryncha (SW China, SE Tibet to N SE Asia).A


Lives chiefly on large insects, grasshoppers, locusts et cetera.E OmnivorousA

Biology And Ecology

Breeding season April to August.A


Nest made of sticks and roots.E Building small or large cup fairly low in dense-leafed tree, commonly an oak.A


Three to ?, greenish fawn colour, very faintly blotched with brown.E


Wanders about a good deal, generally flying low, and alighting on low trees and shrubs, sometimes on a stone, or the stump of a tree.E Active and sociable, usually in small, probably family parties, even in breeding season (may be cooperative breeder). Often joins jays in mixed parties in winter; very site-faithful. Groups fly short distances in follow-mayleader fashion, with quick wing-beats and glides; sustained flight laboured and undulating. Readily visits ground.A


Philopterus urocissae R.D. Price & Hellenthal, 1998F


Loud ringing call, which the natives attempt to imitate in the names Tying-jongring and Piangingjabbring.E Calls (probably difficult to distinguish from those of U.erythroryncha) loud and varied (some harsh, some musical, metallic and/or lilting); include a pu-pu-weer; wheezy bu-zeep-peck-peck-peck; high-pitched clear-clear; grating harsh creaking; sharp squealing whistles; and mimicry. Some of these may be represented in recordings which include loud, wild, raptor-like, strident, slightly doscordant, mostly rising then falling notes; e.g. SKA/WWW\el; flatter klEE-klEE-klEE-klEEIP; sqUEEEL; klerp/kleeeuu; richer, dreamier screeer, screeer, screeer; a slurred, rising kreeep!, etc.; note-types delivered in no apparent order and at leisurely pace (pitch 4.2-2.5 kHz, note d 0.25-0.5 s, rate 1-2 notes/s; Sikkim-PCD). Alarm-type calls include a staccato, hard, gravelly, aggravated rak-rak-rak-rak, notes well separated (pitch 1.8-4 kHz, rate 9 notes/s, strophe d 0.6 s); also a much faster, machine-gunning ch'CHIK\CHTR'TR'TR'TR'TR'tr'tr (pitch centred at 3 kHz), rate 16 notes/s, strophe d 0.5 s, repeated every few s; Himachal-PS).A


A. Rasmussen, P.C. & Anderton, J.C. 2012: Birds of South Asia. The Ripley Guide., 2nd edition, 1 and 2: 594 [8772]
B. Goodwin, D. 1976: Crows of the world: 197 [3]
C. 2003: The Howard and Moore complete checklist of the birds of the world. 3rd Edition: 504-515
D. The birds of the Palearctic Fauna: Passeriformes.: 153 [2882]
E. Jerdon, T.C. 1863: The Birds of India : being a natural history of all the birds known to inhabit continental India, with descriptions of the species, genera, families, tribes, and orders, and a brief notice of such families as are not found in India, making it a manual of ornithology specially adapted for India. v. 2, pt. 1: 311 [1228]
F. Price & Hellenthal: Taxonomy of Philopterus (Phthiraptera: Philopteridae) from the Corvidae (Passeriformes), with descriptions of nine new species. – Annals of the Entomological Society of America 91 (6): 782-799: 786, 791 [78]