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Black-billed Magpie

Black-billed Magpie
Photo Information
Copyright: Richard Vincent (earthtraveler) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 427 W: 123 N: 947] (3483)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2007-06-21
Categories: Birds
Camera: Panasonic DMC-FZ50
Photo Version: Original Version
Date Submitted: 2007-08-04 1:11
Viewed: 9804
Points: 36
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Black-billed Magpie
Pica hudsonia, Order PASSERIFORMES - Family CORVIDAE
A common and very conspicuous bird of western North America, the Black-billed Magpie is found in urban as well as rural areas. Its bold black-and-white pattern and long tail make it easy to identify
Cool Facts
• Until very recently the Black-billed Magpie was considered the same species as the Eurasian Magpie. Vocal and behavioral differences suggest that the American magpie with the black bill is more closely related to the Yellow-billed Magpie than to the European black-billed magpie. The Eurasian Magpie is found across a vast range from northern Africa across Europe to Southeast Asia and Siberia. It may in fact be several different species.
• The Black-billed Magpie makes a very large nest that can take up to 40 days to construct. It's a lot of work, but a study found that it only used about 1% of the daily energy expenditure of the pair. Laying eggs, on the other hand, takes 23% of the female's daily energy budget.
• Like most members of its family, the Black-billed Magpie is known as a predator on nests of other birds. Although it will take eggs and nestlings, these items actually make up only a tiny portion of the magpie's diet. In England, one study found that songbird density actually increased when Eurasian Magpie density increased.
• The Black-billed Magpie frequently lands on large mammals, such as deer and moose, to remove ticks from them. The magpie eats the ticks, and then hides some for later use, as members of the crow and jay family often do with excess food. Most of the ticks, however, are cached alive and unharmed, and may live to reproduce later.

• Size: 45-60 cm (18-24 in)
• Wingspan: 56-61 cm (22-24 in)
• Weight: 145-210 g (5.12-7.41 ounces)
• Large black-and-white songbird.
• Long black tail.
• Black head and chest.
• White belly and shoulder.
• White patches in wings.
• Glossy iridescence on wings and tail.
• Tail feathers longest in center, tapering outward.
• Legs black.
• Bill stout and black.
• Eyes black.
Sex Differences
Sexes look alike.

Call a harsh, chattering "wock, wock wock-a-wock, wock, pjur, weer, weer."

Resident along southern Alaska coast, and from eastern British Columbia eastward to western Ontario and southward to northern Arizona.

Found in thickets in riparian areas, meadows, grasslands, sagebrush, and around people.

Ground-dwelling invertebrates, grain, acorns, carrion, and small mammals.

Forages primarily on ground. Holds food with feet and pecks it.

Nest Type
Nest a sturdy domed bowl, made primarily of sticks and mud. Lined with hair, grass, bark, or rootlets. Placed in tree, shrub, or on utility pole.

Egg Description
Tan or olive-brown with variable amount of dark brown speckles
Clutch Size
Usually 6-7 eggs. Range: 4-7.

Conservation Status
Common. Populations appear stable. May be expanding range eastward.

Other Names
Pie d'Amιrique (French)

Cornell Lab of Ornithology
All About Birds - website

Thank you all for taking a look and sharing your thoughts. Richard

Matt-Bird, JeanMarc, lawhill, eqshannon, pablominto, jaycee, gannu, Necipp, eBirdy, jmp, mikou, lise, Argus has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

Hi Richard!

Simply superb! Perfect POV. It's as if he was posing just for you. Well done.


  • Great 
  • Janice Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3277 W: 148 N: 6163] (18832)
  • [2007-08-04 4:37]

What a colourful Black-billed Magpie he is. Quite a beauty too with those blue tail feathers. Excellent capture Richard, well done

Hi Richard,
Nice portrait this Black-billed Magpie looks like was pose for you, well done TS, Best regards/Lawhill

Ah yes. I have seen many more than my share up in the wilderness. Your picture is so good it makes this bird look almost regal. I don't remember seeing one so beautiful, but I was maybe too busy worrying about "people predators"...nice job.


Hello Richard,
A beauty specimen, well captured!
The feather coat appears shining and well groomed, and exposure is well done...
Good pose that gives the best possible impression of the bird, a well composed presentation!
Pablo -

  • Great 
  • jaycee Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2454 W: 10 N: 8044] (25460)
  • [2007-08-04 8:08]

Hi Richard,

Now how often does a Magpie pose like this for a photographer? This is just superb. The black, white and blue are perfect. Couldn't be sharper. This one looks like royalty suveying his manor. Fantastic shot.


  • Great 
  • gannu Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 988 W: 4 N: 3277] (14761)
  • [2007-08-04 9:26]

Richard, excellent shot. You have managed to take the great shot with colors of the bird. Excellent Ganesh

Hello Richard a very sharp shot good pose and nice angle, the rocks and background work well tfs rgds Necip.

  • Great 
  • uleko Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3396 W: 172 N: 3310] (10940)
  • [2007-08-04 10:54]

Hello Richard,
Even though the Magpies are common here I've never managed to get a good shot of them. This is just brilliant! I love the composition, so sharp and so perfect against the light soft background.
Many thanks and regards, Ulla

Hi Richard,
Good color contrast, sgharp and detailed shot, with really good DOF... I just find it a bit underexposed, specially noticeable on bird's face and plumage, although we can clearly distinguish the eye...
This american Magpie looks really like our european one, at least, physically speaking!
thanks for your notes...really useful!
Regards, Marta

  • Great 
  • Mana Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1772 W: 36 N: 5597] (18598)
  • [2007-08-04 22:38]

Hi Richard,
Wonderful shot of the Black-billed Magpie. Very sharp image and neat focus. Superb exposure of the black and white plumage with lovely colours and perfect lighting. It stands out so well against the BG as it sits on that blue rock and among the green grasses. I like its long tail. Excellent POV to portray it and very nicely composed. Kudos.

Hi Richard,
The head plumage of this bird is pitch black, it looks good. You have captured the other feathers colours and details very nicely too. Good photo,

  • Great 
  • jmp Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1659 W: 95 N: 2273] (8415)
  • [2007-08-05 3:50]

Hi Richard,
A very nice portrait of this magpie with perfect pose, pov and exposure. Composition is great too.
TFS, Josι M.

  • Great 
  • mikou Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 869 W: 68 N: 1479] (6093)
  • [2007-08-05 7:21]

Hi Richard.
Great shot.I like depth of this picture with superb posture of this bird on stone.Beautiful contrasty colors and very good details in plumage.Composition with pretty pose as well as your used POV are very nice.Well done.
TFS,with greeting Milos.

Hello Richard, faboulous colors, very good sharpness and composition, great shot, cheer,

  • Great 
  • lise Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor [C: 169 W: 48 N: 548] (2877)
  • [2007-08-05 15:17]

Hi Richard,
Very nice bird! I didn't know we had those in Canada!! Great composition and POV.
Very well done and TFS

Hello Richard

We have magpies in the UK but they are not as impressive as your native breed.
An excellent shot.

Best Regards

  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2007-08-07 6:19]

Hello Richard,
This is a superb portrait of Black-billed Magpie. He poses beautifully on the rock for the shot and you caught him from a great POV with fine sharpness, color and BBG. Excellent composition too, all making this a very fine posting.
I can see the differences between this and the Eurasian species, especially the longer tail.
TFS and best wishes, Ivan

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