Monday, July 22, 2013

A Mischief of Magpies

Late last year I was in need of a Magpie photo for a presentation I was preparing. With over 50,000 photos in my personal library, I surely had ample images to choose from. Unfortunately, I did not. I had fallen victim to that ever present curse of undervaluing that which surrounds us daily.

The Black-billed Magpie (Pica hudsonia) is a strikingly marked and conspicuous bird of the cold, shrub-steppe environment of western North America (Trost 1999). It generally has a bad reputation for its boistrous demeanor and its keen intellect which enables it to be a formidable predator of everything from picnic table contents to backyard songbird eggs. Most people I speak with think of them as a nuisance. However, if you put aside your prejudices and observe the bird's beauty and intellect anew, you will probably grow to admire these birds as I have.

Since my discovery of being photoless of magpies, I have tried to photograph every one I see (and other common birds). Here are some of my better photos from this year. BTW, a group of magpies is also known as a mischief, hence the title of this post.


Yes, they do steal bird eggs! Black-billed Magpie with bird egg. Hull's Gulch, Boise, Idaho.


Black-billed Magpie with bird egg. Hull's Gulch, Boise, Idaho.


But they also eat ticks! Black-billed Magpie, Yellowstone National Park.


Black-billed Magpie, Yellowstone National Park.


Black-billed Magpie, Yellowstone National Park.


Black-billed Magpie, Yellowstone National Park.


Black-billed Magpie, Yellowstone National Park.


But I understand why Red-tailed Hawks don't like them. Black-billed Magpie, Hull's Gulch, Boise, Idaho.

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