In Europe this bird is found only in southern Iberia. The next nearest population is China and it is found further east to Japan and Korea. Because of this disjunct range it has long been supposed that the Iberian population originated from birds brought back by Portugese sailors in the 15th century. Recently however bones of this species dating back 44,000 years have been found in Gibraltar and the range is subject to further examination.
First thought to be a colony of an almost identical Asian species, the [Azure-winged Magpie], and it was assumed it had been brought on a ship. But DNA evidence has shown they are distinct species, with the Iberian being a bit smaller and with a shorter tail.