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A New Favorite

October 6, 2011

Delightful Birders! I’m in the Canadian Rockies for a few weeks and just managed to ID a fabulous new bird! BY MYSELF! (For those of you who know me, you’ll appreciate this monumental feat!) The Black-Billed Magpie (Pica hudsonia) is a regular in these parts of Western North America — the Cornell birding site calls it “common and very conspicuous” — but it was still a tremendously exciting sighting for me. I guess that’s the beauty of knowing very little about birds — everything is both rare and wondrous to me! Here it is:

I love the fantastically long tail and the metallic blue on its wings. That blueish coloring reminds me of tree swallows — another super common bird which I can’t get enough of. Apparently, Black Billed Magpies spend up to 40 days constructing their elaborate nests! Quite a project! But you’ll be happy to know that such heavy duty construction work only accounts for 1% of the bird’s daily energy output.

I’m finding that I love seeing common birds as much as rarities. Maybe part of the pleasure of common birds is that I can identify them! In any event, The Black Billed Magpie is quite majestic: with a tail weighing just about half his body weight, how can he be anything other than extraordinary!


6 Comments leave one →
  1. October 6, 2011 7:48 pm

    I do believe you will find you are the ONLY person in Western Canada happy to see a magpie!! They are beautiful, for sure, but (unlike lovely tree swallows) they are very destructive and seem to crowd out other birds species.

    • October 6, 2011 7:51 pm

      Yeah, they’re space hogs and eat other birds’ food! And apparently they also eat ticks off mammals and hoard the tics for future use (!!). Bird life is one strange thing.

  2. October 6, 2011 8:46 pm

    Congratulations on your incredible spotting feat. Truly I am proud. Can’t wait to see you next week so you can show me one of these birds.

    • October 6, 2011 9:04 pm

      Do I detect a glimmer of irony? Spotting a Black Billed Magpie was second only to recognizing a Robin 🙂 So there.

  3. October 12, 2011 12:31 pm

    Congrats on learning to identify a new bird on your own! I am also still learning, unlike the main character of my Birder Murder mysteries, Bob White.

    • October 12, 2011 2:30 pm

      Thanks for your comment! I’d love to get to know Bob White and your Birder Murder mysteries! Birding is indeed a lifelong process — I’m still surprised by how much I enjoy it!

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