Living in Alaska has afforded me the opportunity to experience wildlife different than I have known to date. Of course, brown bears, moose and caribou are some of the obvious ones, but there are others I have enjoyed “getting to know”.
My grandmother, Irma, was an avid fan of birds. She could tell you all sorts of facts and interesting trivia about nearly any breed. When I am out on one of my walks, or while out driving, I keep an eye out for birds in the area, and the Magpie has quickly become one of my favorites. Their contrasting black and white plumage makes them easy to spot.
Magpies are part of the crow family, but more surprising to me, they are considered one of the most intelligent animals in the world, and the only non-mammal species able to recognize itself in a mirror!
Other interesting things that I have learned, is that in the past, they were associated with bison herds – landing on their backs to clean ticks and insects from them – today they can be seen doing the same on cattle. They also have been known to follow large predators like wolves, and scavenge from their kills. Magpies can also be found walking on the ground, eating beetles, grasshoppers, worms, and even small rodents.
They are one of the few North American birds that build a domed nest – usually made of twigs and built near the top of trees. I’ll have to watch closely next Spring for any signs of Magpie nests!