Friday, October 30, 2009

Don't Mind Me, I'm Just A Magpie

BLACK-BILLED MAGPIES are ultra common in Colorado. They are as everywhere there as Sea Gulls or crows, to whom they are related, are on the east coast. Though they are protected in the United States, they are regarded by most Westerners as a nuisance bird. I couldn't get enough of them! Their sharply contrasting feathers are visually appealing and they are quite gregarious. They are also very interesting. A University Of Colorado scientist, Dr. Marc Bekoff maintains that Magpies hold funerals for their dead. He saw four magpies by a dead magpie and recounted: "One approached the corpse, gently pecked at it, just as an elephant would nose the carcass of another elephant, and stepped back. Another magpie did the same thing. Next, one of the magpies flew off, brought back some grass and laid it by the corpse. Another magpie did the same. Then all four stood vigil for a few seconds and one by one flew off." In the journal, Emotion, Space and Society , he says "We can't know what they were actually thinking or feeling, but reading their action there's no reason not to believe these birds were saying a magpie farewell to their friend." Indeed. Magpies are also the only known non-mammal to recognize itself in a mirror, so why couldn't they have emotions? They are highly intelligent, adaptive birds that eat anything and will turn things over to look for food underneath. Their resourceful omnivorousness is why some people think they are a pain. They will eat the eggs of other birds, tear open trash bags and rob dumpsters. I like to think of myself as a kind of magpie, a flashy dumpster diver of the writing kind. It would be fitting if when I'm reincarnated that I come back as a magpie.

The most well known magpies in the east are Heckle And Jeckle of cartoon fame.

I could not have said it better myself!

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  1. We have plenty of Magpies here in Pullman Washington, and I love them.

  2. I never knew magpies were so beautiful with not only black feathers but blue and white! Needless to say, I won't mention any names, BUT there is a correlation between magpies and dump scavengers...

  3. Fascinating information and excellent images. Great one-two punch.

  4. Thanks for that, Ed. It's amazing what one can find out when investigating the mundane.

  5. WEll... about the bat's..!
    when helping a dear friend clean out their new inherited camp, Oh my...! we had hundrends of them ot deal with.. it wasn't fun.!
    Stanley would keep the front na back door opne just let then fly throw the camp. you could feel them buzing over you head as you played cribage by a kersene lamp. One night after we had worked very hard evecting the bats. thinging they couldn't get it any more. Lorie yell's net them..! in a southern drall. ..! Net them..! We all got up .. about 60 bats had gotten in.. from some where. when you layed down... they would buzz you I guess you could call it.. they would fly with in inches of you face.. Not a good feeling. using fishing nets we cought them all put them out side.. when Henry got home.. he went to work looking for places they back throw, patched them up.....
    the next morning when daylight came, I could hear them landing on top of the camp, trying to get in..
    it sounded like a run way.! ...
    That's my funny story about bats.. 300 hundred bats are a little much.. ! that was how many there..! at least.! 60 is too much.! one no problem.!
    Got any bat storys.!

    I also love magpies.. when we were in Alaska.. One man told us the best detective for Bears was a magpie. he was right. they would squawk and almost point whan dirrection the bear was in.. Any time I was walking around I would always lisson for the magpie if it seemed to be upset. If there was a bear around, they would let you know about.. ! I now that one from my own experience in Alaska. I walked my wolf all over the place.
    Betty B
    Betty B.