Young black-billed magpies

I saw my first young black-billed magpies (Pica hudsonia) on May 24 2016 in a Tatarian honeysuckle bush near Parking Lot 10 of the University of Calgary. One sibling was on his own and the three others were together.

A few days later, on June 4th, I saw youngsters from another family, a couple of blocks away.

Young black-billed magpies are born altricial, with closed eyes and no feathers, and fledge 24-30 days later. They stay near the nest for 3-4 weeks and are fed by their parents for 6-8 weeks. [1]

Black-billed magpies build very large spherical or oblong-spherical nests with two, small, round openings on opposite sides. I’ve seen a lot of magpies and their nests around Edmonton but I haven’t seen any young ones yet. Below are some photos I took last year, in Calgary, of adult magpies and nests. Adult black-billed magpies have black bills and much longer tails.

[1] Trost, Charles H. (1999). Black-billed Magpie (Pica hudsonia), The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America: https://birdsna.org/Species-Account/bna/species/bkbmag1/breeding

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12 Comments

  1. So cute! Love that you got pics of them in the flowers.

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    1. Thanks, Kelly! I saw those flowers in bloom last week and they reminded me of these photos from last year. 🙂

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  2. How exciting to see fledglings! I’ve only seen adults. They look so pretty with the pink flowers.
    I have to tell you I find these birds gross. They’re my least favorite bird.

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    1. I so glad you enjoyed the wee ones and the flowers! The joys of spring! I saw my first magpie and robin fledglings today. So cute! 🙂

      Do you find magpies gross because they cache dog poop? I’m sort of divided on it being interesting and it being gross. I’ve never seen them doing it so I can just pretend they are all pretty, all the time!

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      1. How exciting seeing the magpie and robin fledglings! I’ve never seen either, but did see a Western Bluebird Fledgling last week. I even got a decent image. That was exciting.

        Magpies- yes! I’ve never seen them stashing poop but I see them digging through cow and horse dung and eating stuff from it. GROSS! They’re the flies of the bird world. ICK!

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        1. Yay for western bluebird fledglings! 🙂

          Did you see Mike Bizeau’s recent post about birds and cow poo? Supposedly, a few birds pick out invertebrates from cow poo or eat the poo itself. Here’s the link:
          https://naturehasnoboss.com/2017/06/11/importance-of-poo/

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  3. Very cool. I didn’t know about the nests. We only see them when wed go to the other side of the Cascades, and I’m always happy to watch them with those elegant tails and the handsome plumage. I guess you could think of magpie fledging as being at the same time as lilac fading! Those animal/plant timing associations seem to work better than calendar dates. Thanks for the information!

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    1. Good observation about the animal/plant timing associations. My visual memories tend to be stronger than my factual date memories. And indeed, as the first lilac bushes started to fade last week, I saw my first three magpie fledglings. So delightfully awkward and energetic!

      Glad you enjoyed the nests. 🙂

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      1. Me too – remembering facts is along shot! But visuals have a better chance. Even those, not so great…. 😉

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  4. SOOOO cuuuute! Love magpies. We don’t get them where we are in Indiana. 🙂

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    1. Oh yeah, they seem to live west of where you are. And I finally know where Indiana is! I guessed central US somewhere but that is very vague. South of Michigan and touching the southern tip of Lake Michigan is a much clearer place. 🙂

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      1. LOL!! Yes, I just tell people that we’re a 5 hour drive south of Chicago…Chicago being the only place in the Midwest people seem to know. 😉

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