Magpie, Black-billed

Latin name: Pica hudsoniamagpie

Length, wingspan:19″, 25″

What they eat: Everything! They are omnivores.

Plants that attract: Prefer open woodlands and meadows.

Where they nest: Primarily in coniferous or deciduous trees.

My observations: Magpies are members of the Corvid family, which includes jays, crows and ravens. With their long tails and white-and-black markings, I think they are one of the showiest birds. Unfortunately, that’s as far as my admiration goes. A few years ago, I learned the dark side of magpies and it has completely changed my delight in seeing them in the area. Magpies are nest robbers: they will eat eggs and nestlings. The latter is what happened to the young of some bluebirds nesting near our orchard. My husband deepened the entrance to our bluebird boxes to prevent this from happening in the future, and it has done the trick. However, we discourage magpies from nesting on our property by interrupting their nest-building any time we see them bringing twigs to a tree; they now now to nest elsewhere.

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