Bird of the Week

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Photo courtesy Charles Martinez

This week’s Bird of the Week, compliments of the Weminuche Audubon Society and Audubon Rockies, is the black-billed magpie.
One of the most recognizable of year-round residents in Pagosa country is the black-billed magpie. You don’t have to be a bird enthusiast to spot and admire these large, flashy black and white birds with long, black swooping tails.
Magpies are big, noisy and gregarious. Relatives of jays and crows, magpies have similarly curious minds and are not afraid to interact with people. You are just as likely to spot them downtown as you are on the ranch or deep in the wilderness.
If their voices and inquisitive looks don’t catch your attention, the blaring white patches on their wings will grab your eye as they fly by. View these birds in the right angle of light and you’ll see the beautiful blue-green iridescence of the black feathers on their backs.
Black-billed magpies are omnivores. They can be found riding on the backs of deer, elk, horses or cattle feasting on ticks. They are opportunists and will steal a camper’s meal or enjoy leftover carrion. Magpies are known for paying their respects to the dead. When a magpie finds a deceased magpie, they will call in other magpies to hold a brief funeral of raucous calling.
For information on local bird-watching events, visit www.weminucheaudubon.org and www.facebook.com/weminucheaudubon/.