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灰喜鹊 The Tale of the Blue Magpie

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The Azure-Winged Magpie (Cyanopica cyanus) is a bird with a very strange distribution: it exists only at the extreme ends of the huge continental Eurasian landmass – in China and on the Iberian Peninsula. 

The common belief is that Cyanopica cyanus was an introduced species. Having received mention in China since ancient times, it was quite logical to assume that early Spanish and Portuguese missionaries to Asia, attracted by the bird’s beautiful plumage, brought it back to the Iberian Peninsula. 


A discovery in a Gibraltar cave of ancient remains of the Azure-Winged Magpie suggests otherwise. It has sparked off new theories among the scientific community and a DNA analysis comparing Chinese Azure-Winged and Iberian Magpies is revealing a surprising new reality.