This study presents a hybrid experimental mechanics approach combining multi-scale mechanical testing, in situ nondestructive evaluation and targeted microscopic quantification to identify and quantify critical microstructural parameters that affect properties and overall plasticity of Mg alloys. Room temperature monotonic and cyclic experiments monitored by Digital Image Correlation (DIC) coupled with Acoustic Emission (AE) of Mg Alloys of the AZ series were used for this investigation. Data obtained using the optico-acoustic nondestructive system revealed for the first time the direct connection between surface strain localization effects similar to Luder's bands and pronounced twin activity. Electron Back Scatter Diffraction (EBSD) measurements showed the profuse and spatially inhomogeneous nature of twinning at early stages of plasticity which is related with the onset of yielding and the macroscopic plateau region in the stress-strain curve. Furthermore, twinning/detwinning activity was identified in several grains of tested specimens and during characteristic points of fatigue cycles.