English Magpie Pigeon

English Magpie Pigeon: Origin, Appearance, Behavior, Care, And More

The English magpie pigeon is an incredibly popular, stylish, little pigeon breed often spotted in fields and parks. Its unique selection of colors and markings makes it a popular pigeon bird for pigeon shows and exhibitions. Its calm and docile nature also makes it a good choice for a pet bird.

In the following article, we’ll explore more facts about the English magpie pigeon including its origin and history, physical appearance, color markings, diet, habitat, and breeding. We’ll also discuss the suitability of this pigeon as a pet plus tips for taking good care of it to ensure it stays happy and healthy.

English Magpie Pigeon Quick Facts:

Scientific nameColumba livia domestica
Other namesBlack and White Magpie pigeon
Breed nameEnglish Magpie
OriginUnited Kingdom
Breed purposeExhibition, racing, pets
SizeMedium to large
Weight400 to 460 g
Flying abilityGood
Cost$50 to $150
Lifespan10+ years

Origin and history

The English magpie traces its origin to Britain. The original magpie pigeon was a tumbler variety that came from Germany through Denmark around 1900.

The pigeon is a fancy pigeon breed and is popular in England and many parts of America. Similar to other breeds of domesticated pigeons, the magpie is a descendant of the rock pigeon.

English Magpie Pigeon Origin and history

It’s also worth keeping in mind that this bird has gone through numerous crosses, including with the Homer and Scandroon breeds, which failed.

The last crossing involved the Baghdad pigeons in around 1910 which produced the English magpie in the form it’s known today.

The bird goes by the name “Queen of Pigeons” in England. Today, the bird is mainly kept as an exhibit pigeon in the United Kingdom.

English Magpie pigeon appearance

Magpie pigeon features a slender body and assumes an erect posture, with its back carried at a sharp upward angle.

An average magpie pigeon is about 40cm plus tall, weighs around 400 to 460g, and has an Average wingspan of around 50 cm.

Its head, neck, back, breast, tail, and saddle are black, with an iridescent, metallic appearance. The rest of the pigeon’s body is predominantly white.

The cut on the bird breast separating black and white is evenly defined and sharp. We believe that this breed got its name “magpie” from its white and black body coloration which resembles that of the magpie bird.

The magpie breed also comes in a variety of colorations including blue, yellow, silver, and dun. However, the black variety is the most popular (and also the most popular).

A genetic quirk worth noting is that the blue and silver varieties tend to have black tail bars.

Magpie pigeons have longer (than most breeds) and fresh-colored and have tall, clean legs. Their necks are also elongated and outstretched.

Watch the following video showing some of the color varieties of the English magpie pigeon



The English magpie pigeons are known for their calm and docile nature. This is the reason they’re such a popular breed of choice for many pet pigeon enthusiasts, including absolute beginners.

Even more, these birds are quite social and tend to get along pretty well with other breeds of birds. You can easily mix them up with other breeds of birds without worrying about conflicts coming up from the pigeon’s side.

You should also keep in mind that these birds are good flyers and part of their use is racing. Not to forget that this bird is chatty and entraining, so it will be fun to have around.

English Magpie Pigeon Behavior


Magpies are lovers of seeds and grains, just like most of the other domesticated pigeon breeds. You can feed them commercial seed mixtures for pigeons or you can do the mixing on your own.

Vegetables such as dandelion greens, spinach, collard, etc., are also a source of nutrients for magpie pigeons.

Occasional treats such as fruits and plain popcorn are also recommended to keep the bird happy.

And don’t forget to provide your pigeon with clean and fresh drinking water daily.


The breeding process for English magpie pigeons is pretty easy and isn’t too demanding on the supplies needed.

Essentially, you should provide the bird with a large and comfortable nesting area. You should also ensure it has food and water sources nearby.

English Magpie Pigeon Breeding

However, you should carefully select the mating pair based on the desired characteristics to ensure you get offspring with the desired colorations, markings, flying ability, size, and so on.

Other than this, the magpie is a reliable parent for its young ones.

Magpie pigeons as pets

English magpie pigeons make great pets for anyone interested in keeping domesticated pigeons. This is mainly due to their calm and docile demeanor which makes them easy for you to handle and train.

You can keep these beautiful birds in your backyard aviary. Their unique color patterns make them interesting to watch in your backyard.

However, if you consider keeping these pigeons as pets, then you should make sure you offer them the best care to keep them happy and healthy.

Magpie pigeons as pets

You should give them a balanced and varied diet that includes commercial pigeon food as well as grains, seeds, veggies, and some fruits plus clean and fresh water daily.

You should also provide them with ideal living conditions and keep the space clean and healthy for them to live comfortably.

The fact that the pigeon can tolerate various kinds of climates makes it an even better breed that you can keep as a pet regardless of your location.

You may also want to check out this Magpie pigeon owners Facebook group to interact with and learn from other pigeon pet owners.

Magpie pigeon as show/exhibition birds

The magpie pigeons are primarily raised for exhibitions. Here, they’re judged according to their unique colorations, markings, and their overall appearance.

Varieties with black coloration are the most desired ones in the exhibitions, though you can also find other varieties such as yellow, blue, silver, and dun colors.

Magpie pigeon as show/exhibition birds

As such, many folks breed and raise high-quality breeds of this pigeon for exhibitions. This is no doubt a great hobby and a good way to meet with fellow pigeon enthusiasts.

Magpie pigeon price

You should expect to spend anywhere from $50 to $150 for an English magpie pigeon. In some cases, you may spend more—up to $500 for this pigeon.

The exact price of this breed of pigeon will be dictated by its age, location, individual breeder selling you the bird, and even the overall breed quality of the bird.

As we always advise, it’s always a good idea to get your pet pigeon from a reputable breeder to ensure your chances of getting a healthy bird.

A good breeder is the one who provides you with helpful info regarding the pigeon such as its breeding history, health history, and any other helpful info.


The life expectancy of a magpie pigeon is around 10 years, though the pigeon can live for more years with good care.

That said, the lifespan of this budgie can vary from one individual to another depending on a variety of factors such as environment, diet, genetics, and the overall care they get.

Magpie Pigeon Lifespan

Luckily, you can prolong the life of your English magpie pigeon by providing it with proper nutrition and ensuring it stays in clean and spacious housing.

Regular vet checkups can also help increase the bird’s lifespan. Your avian vet will be able to detect unhealthy issues and treat them early on before they come catastrophic for your feathered friend.

“If you’re interested in learning about other unique breeds of pigeons, you might want to check out our articles on Egyptian Swift pigeons and Cumulet pigeons. Our article on Egyptian Swift pigeons explores the fascinating history, characteristics, and care requirements of these swift and graceful birds, including how to raise and maintain their health and well-being. Meanwhile, our article on Cumulet pigeons delves into the unique features and care requirements of these birds, including how to breed and raise them for show or as pets.

Final Verdict

The English Magpie Pigeon is one of the most common pigeon breeds in the world today. This breed makes great racers, show birds, and even pets. The fact that this fancy bird is quite calm and docile makes it a great pet bird even for beginners. It’s also an easy breeder and a reliable parent to its young ones. The pigeon breed has a variety of colors, with the black mutation being the most favored in exhibitions. If you’re looking for a beginner-friendly pigeon pet or a social breed you can add to your flock of birds, then you should consider the English magpie pigeon.

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