24 June 2024

Commonest Corvid

Friday, February 28th, 2020
Black-billed Magpie, East Millcreek, Salt Lake City, Utah, 28 February 2020.
Black-billed Magpie.

Around here, it’s hard not to have a certain appreciation for magpies. People complain about their noisy, thievin’ ways—but them’s the ways of most corvids, after all.

I do miss crows—I’ve only heard one or two caws out here in more than six months, whereas hardly a day would go by in Maine without hearing a few dozen—but Black-billed Magpies fill the niche pretty nicely here.

They’re smart. They’re vocal (with a larger vocabulary than crows). They’re smart. Amusing. (I enjoyed watching that pair sneak up and pull on the tail of a Golden Eagle that one day not long ago.) And you can interact with them pretty easily. I think one or two even recognize Jack and me by now.

I’ve seen four corvids along the foothills trail—magpie, scrub-jay, raven, Steller’s jay—and a few crows in town. Might even get to see a pinion jay at some point.

But, to me at least, the commonest corvid here in the high desert has a certain allure.

Grandeur Peak Area List
Beginning at 9:15 a.m., I hiked a few hundred feet up the mountain.

1. Black-billed Magpie*
2. House Finch**
3. Black-capped Chickadee**
4. Song Sparrow*
5. Dark-eyed Junco
6. Woodhouse’s Scrub-jay*
7. Lesser Goldfinch** (v)
8. American Robin*
9. European Starling


Rocky Mountain Elk
Mule Deer

(v) Voice only
*Also elsewhere

**Voice only elsewhere

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Bird Report is a (sometimes intermittent) record of the birds I encounter while hiking, see while driving, or spy outside my window. —Brian Willson

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