We had quite a hot spell in early July and it made a lot of animals and birds very lethargic (including me) particularly during the middle of the day. I often walk over lunch hour and one day I spotted a juvenile magpie taking a nap in the shade near their nest. Had I been so inclined, I might have snatched it off the branch for a cuddle! It’s unlikely that would have ended well for either of us!
The other images I have here are from one of my favourite birding spots where magpies have been nesting for quite a few years now. This young magpie was foraging along the shore for invertebrates, suspiciously quiet and mostly ignoring me.
Magpies are part of the Corvid family which includes jays, crows, and ravens. A group of magpies is called a mischief. They are smart, social birds, who are often loud and boisterous and have a reputation for stealing the eggs of songbirds. Myth-bust #1: Studies have shown that eggs make up only a small proportion of what magpies feed on during the reproductive season. Magpies kill small mammals such as squirrels and voles, and carrion and maggots found in carrion are also a major source of food.
Magpies arrived in North America over 3 million years ago according to fossil records. They followed Bison herds, picking ticks from the backs of the animals and flipped their dung to forage for beetles. When the bison was exterminated by colonists, magpies adapted by eating ticks from cattle. Myth-bust #2: Magpies are not an invasive species in North America. Rather, they have successfully expanded their range thanks to climate change and expanding human activities.
In the US, magpies are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act but are not listed as a protected species in Canada’s Migratory Bird Treaty Convention. Instead, each province or territory regulates the protection that magpies have within their jurisdiction. While hunting and trapping of magpies can have a detrimental impact on local populations, bigger threats are pesticides sprayed onto cattle, and poisoned bait-meat set out for predator species such as coyotes.
The longest-living Black-billed Magpie on record was at least 9 years, 4 months old and lived in Idaho.
That’s all for this week, I hope you enjoyed learning more about magpies. Thanks for stopping by.