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Indochinese green magpie

Indochinese green magpie
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Corvidae
Genus: Cissa
C. hypoleuca
Binomial name
Cissa hypoleuca

The Indochinese green magpie (Cissa hypoleuca), also known as the yellow-breasted magpie, is a small colorful bird native to the forests of China all the way to Vietnam.[2]


Normal plumage with yellow underbelly

This small bird is approximately 35 cm in length[3] and has a unique fluorescent plumage just like the other members of the Cissa genus. However, its body is mostly green and those with an underbelly of yellow color are unique to the southern populations in Southeast Asia with the exception of the Chinese population that still have green underbellies, just like the other Cissa birds. They have a black band that goes from their bill, over their crimson eyes, and to the back of their head, that looks similar to the mask of the popular movie character Zorro. They have long reddish-brown flight feathers, and a bill and legs that are brightly red colored.[4] Both sexes look mostly similar, but the juveniles have duller colors than the adults.[5] Duller colors can also be seen when the birds are exposed to too much sunlight.[6]


The Indochinese green magpie was firstly described in 1885 by Salvadori, AT and Giglioli, EH.[2] The genus Cissa includes 3 other short-tailed magpies species: The common green magpie (Cissa chinensis), the Javan green magpie (Cissa thalassina), and the Bornean green magpie (Cissa jefferyi). The name Cissa is derived from the Ancient Greek kissa which means a "jay" or "magpie" and the genus was discovered by Friedrich Boie in 1826.[7] They all look very similar with their green plumage, iridescent red bill and black mask. They are part of the Corvidae family with crows, ravens, jays, amongst many others. As a perching bird, it is in the order Passeriformes, which includes more than half of all bird species.[8]


There are five subspecies:[5]

  • C. h. jini in Southeast China (Yaoshan Massif of Guangxi)
  • C. h. concolor in Northern Vietnam
  • C. h. chauleti in Central Vietnam
  • C. h. hypoleuca in East Thailand and South Indochina
  • C. h. katsumatae in Hainan southern China

Habitat and Distribution


The yellow-breasted magpie can be found in moist forests within the tropical and subtropical regions of their distribution. Due to their bright green plumage, they can be seen easily when jumping from branch to branch in foliage. Therefore this is why they mainly occur in the tree canopies of forests, as this camouflages their green plumage better, protecting them from predation.[4]


They are native to Asia, and can be found in China, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. They can tolerate altitudes of up to 1500 meters and they span over a region of about 1,920,000 km2. They stay in these areas all year long and do not migrate.[9][10][11]


This passerine bird is very loud and loves to hang out in the foliage of its forest habitat. They have been spotted alone, in pairs, or in small groups. They can be sometimes seen in mixed flocks with laughingthrushes (Garrulax leucolophus) and drongos.[12] The Indochinese green magpie does not migrate and stays in its native range. It has a mainly carnivorous diet and eats lot of different things. An adult Indochinese green magpie once lived for 18 years in captivity.[13] When hunting their prey, they stalk it, corner it and then the male will make the kill.[6]


Much like other corvids, the Indochinese green magpie is a songbird and has a very good and precise control of its syrinx.[14] It can produce sounds like noisy chattering, rasping notes, screeches, and ringing whistles.[4] They can generate high-pitched series of notes that sounds like "po-puueeee-chuk", followed by lower pitched "eeeoooeeep groak".[15]


The yellow-breasted magpie can eat a lot of different things, as it is carnivorous. Its diet includes small frogs, insects, eggs of snakes and lizards, and nestlings.[5] The insects from its diet eat a lot of lutein-rich plants, which is a yellow carotenoid pigment. This component is what makes the birds from the Cissa genus go from blue to bright green. Malnourished birds can be found to be more of a blue color due to the lack of the lutein pigment, since its body does not produce it.[16]


The month of May appears to be the month when their breeding is recorded. They were found to lay approximately 4 eggs in captivity. They place their nest hidden in a tree at a height of two to three meters above the ground. Their nest resembles a bowl made of small branches.[5] Its generation length is of 6.7 years.[9]


The Indochinese green magpie has been assessed to be of least concern in 2016 by the IUCN red list.[9] Its current population trend is declining, but the decline is not pronounced enough for them to be considered vulnerable. The decline is caused partially by habitat destruction in Hainan.[9] Another reason would be that the Indochinese green magpie is targeted in the illegal pet trade. Its bright and beautiful colors often makes it an ideal exotic pet, especially as it is very appreciated by birdwatchers.[17][18] It is difficult to gauge the concurrent status of conservation of the Indochinese green magpie as we have not been able to quantify its global population size.[9][19]

The Photo Ark

In July 2022, National Geographic announced that the Indochinese green magpie was the milestone 14,000th animal photographed for The Photo Ark.[20]


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2016). "Cissa hypoleuca". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016: e.T22705813A94036926. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22705813A94036926.en. Retrieved 12 November 2021.
  2. ^ a b "Cissa hypoleuca (Yellow-breasted Magpie) - Avibase". Retrieved 2023-10-19.
  3. ^ "Pirolle à ventre jaune - Cissa hypoleuca - Indochinese Green Magpie". Retrieved 2023-10-19.
  4. ^ a b c "Indochinese Green-Magpie - eBird". Retrieved 2023-10-19.
  5. ^ a b c d "Indochinese Green Magpie - BirdForum Opus". BirdForum. Retrieved 2023-10-19.
  6. ^ a b Cristo, Roland; Cristo, Ilana (1999). "Yellow-breasted Hunting Cissa". AFA Watchbird. 26 (5): 50–51.
  7. ^ "Cissa (genus)", Wikipedia, 2023-07-22, retrieved 2023-10-19
  8. ^ "Corvidae", Wikipedia, 2023-10-10, retrieved 2023-10-19
  9. ^ a b c d e IUCN (2016-10-01). Cissa hypoleuca: BirdLife International: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22705813A94036926 (Report). International Union for Conservation of Nature. doi:10.2305/ Retrieved 19 October 2023.
  10. ^ Wenxing, Long; Runguo, Zang; Yi, Ding (2011-11-15). "Community characteristics of tropical montane evergreen forest and tropical montane dwarf forest in Bawangling National Nature Reserve on Hainan Island, South China". Biodiversity Science. 19 (5): 558–566. doi:10.3724/sp.j.1003.2011.09309. ISSN 1005-0094.
  11. ^ Lau, Michael; Hau, Billy; Chau, Lawrence; Siu, Gloria (2000). "The present status and conservation of the biodiversity in Hong Kong". Biodiversity Science. 08 (1): 25–35. doi:10.17520/biods.2000004. ISSN 1005-0094.
  12. ^ "Indochinese Green Magpie in China". Shanghai Birding 上海观鸟. 2021-03-27. Retrieved 2023-10-19.
  13. ^ Madge, Steve; Sharpe, Chris; Christie, David (2020-03-04), "Javan Green-Magpie (Cissa thalassina)", Birds of the World, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, retrieved 2023-10-19
  14. ^ "What Is a Songbird, Exactly? | Audubon". 2021-06-17. Retrieved 2023-10-19.
  15. ^ Madge, Steve (2020). "Indochinese Green-Magpie (Cissa hypoleuca), version 1.0". Birds of the World. doi:10.2173/bow.yebmag1.01species_shared.bow.project_name. ISSN 2771-3105.
  16. ^ "When Javan Green Magpies feel blue – Silent Forest". Retrieved 2023-10-19.
  17. ^ "The Indochinese Green Magpie is the 14,000th Species to Join the National Geographic Photo Ark". National Geographic Society Newsroom. 2023-05-19. Retrieved 2023-10-19.
  18. ^ Tan, Xiaocai; Yan, Peihao; Liu, Zongyue; Qin, Huan; Jiang, Aiwu (2023-10-01). "Demographics, behaviours, and preferences of birdwatchers and their implications for avitourism and avian conservation: A case study of birding in Nonggang, Southern China". Global Ecology and Conservation. 46: e02552. doi:10.1016/j.gecco.2023.e02552. ISSN 2351-9894.
  19. ^ Thewlis, R. M.; Timmins, R. J.; Evans, T. D.; Duckworth, J. W. (December 1998). "The conservation status of birds in Laos: a review of key species". Bird Conservation International. 8 (S1): 1–159. doi:10.1017/s0959270900002197. ISSN 0959-2709.
  20. ^ DELL'AMORE, CHRISTINE (19 May 2023). "This bird is a survivor. Now she's the 14,000th animal in Nat Geo's Photo Ark". Nat Geo. Archived from the original on 19 May 2023. Retrieved 30 November 2023.
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Indochinese green magpie
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